Pinksy Urges NYC to Invest More In Commercial RE

Seth Pinsky.
Seth Pinsky.


The man that helped steer the city out of the recession now wants to see the de Blasio Administration have some sort of agenda for commercial development.

Seth Pinsky, the former president of the New York City Economic Development Corporation and now an executive vice president at RXR Realty, lauded hizzoner’s affordable housing plan this morning at a NAIOP New York City Chapter panel breakfast—calling it a successful, key issue that needs to be addressed in the city. But, while not its intent, the administration is making the real estate market feel as if any area is up for residential grabs.

Instead, Mr. Pinsky, who spent about five years luring commerce to Gotham as the EDC head, said he would like City Hall to give as much attention to commercial development as it does for the affordable housing issue.

“And, again, I don’t think this is what the administration is actually saying, but this is the message the marketplace is getting,” he said. “It’s making it very hard to create and renovate space for the very types of growing businesses that are the future of this city.”

His comments came after an audience member asked he and his co-panelists what, if anything, the city could do to spur economic development—should that be zoning or addressing union versus non-union labor.

Since moving to RXR and the private sector in mid-2013, Mr. Pinsky has specialized in emerging markets and the outer borough for the commercial real estate company. He’s capitalized on his experience at EDC, where he promoted more tech companies of all sizes becoming a major sector, including securing in 2011 the Cornell NYC Tech campus on Roosevelt Island. And RXR has become more bullish in emerging markets such as Long Island City, where last year it bought the Standard Motor Products Building at 37-18 Northern Boulevard between 37th and 39th Streets for $110 million—home to The Jim Henson Company.

Mr. Pinsky added he’s enjoyed a good working relationship with the city since moving to the private sector, especially at RXR’s Pier 57, part of the city and state’s Hudson River Park Trust.

But in the outer boroughs and emerging markets now, he said this morning, prices are shifting in a way you would normally see for the residential market. It’s become difficult as a result to develop commercial space for emerging sectors in this area.

“One thing that I certainly look for from the city would be that in addition to focusing on affordable housing, I would hope that the city would articulate an aggressive economic development agenda, and in so doing, would make it clear that the creation of new commercial space is equally important to the future of the city as the creation of new affordable housing,” Mr. Pinsky said, while speaking as a panelist about rep

Kathryn Wylde, the president of the pro-business Partnership for New York City, said it might be on real estate professionals to carve out what exactly that agenda might be.

“You can only do so many things at one time and that the mayor has assigned an appropriate priority to affordable housing—in terms of the city initiative,” Ms. Wylde told Commercial Observer. “The leadership for economic development has to come from the private sector.”

When asked for comment, the mayor’s office highlighted several broad economic issues it was working on including business and workforce development, transportation and infrastructure investment as well as providing affordable broadband Internet within the next 10 years.

A spokesman also pointed to specific projects such as a $150 million investment in life science development and establishing regular ferry service throughout the city.

“The administration is laser focused on growth that generates good jobs and creates opportunity for more New Yorkers,” said spokesman Wiley Norvell via email. “These are concrete actions to drive growth and spur a new generation of smart economic development.”

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