The 2020 Real Estate Power 100: 6-50
The 2020 Real Estate Power 100: 6-50
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Under the direction of Marc Holliday, who has served as SL Green’s CEO since 2004 and chairman of the board since 2019, SL green has solidified its position as New York City’s largest owner of office properties, with a massive portfolio of 44 million square feet of assets in the tri-state region. Last fall, SL Green’s One Vanderbilt, an office tower expected to anchor a major redevelopment around Grand Central Terminal, topped out at 1,401 feet.
Ron Moelis heads one of the largest affordable housing companies in New York City at a time when policymakers are focused on adding housing everyday New Yorkers can afford. The for-profit developer has been aligned with the de Blasio administration in pushing for mixed-use developments as a way to add more affordable units. Moelis serves on the advisory board for New York University’s Furman Center and helped found the New York State Association for Affordable Housing.
One of the architects of last year’s landmark rent control legislation, state Sen. Brian Kavanagh is currently a sponsor of the “good cause” bill in the state Senate, which would make it harder for landlords to evict tenants in good standing. The ally of tenant advocates also supports a housing voucher program, modeled after the federal Section 8 program, designed to aid the homeless as well as those at risk of becoming homeless.
Two weeks after the historic 2019 rent control bill passed, John Banks stepped down as head of REBNY, New York’s preeminent (and erstwhile invincible) real estate trade organization. His successor, James Whelan, will have to navigate an adverse political climate, a task more difficult now that many Democrats are eschewing donations from the industry. Whelan has said that fighting commercial rent control is his top priority this year.
Since founding Extell in 1989, Gary Barnett has focused his energy on the development of some of New York City’s tallest buildings, including Central Park Tower and One57, both of which stand over 1,000 feet tall. Barnett, who has ridden the city’s condo boom in recent years, has also been at the center of several hot topics, including blocked views and the use of mechanical voids to build towers ever taller.
Larry Silverstein’s reputation in the real estate market stems largely from his dedication to rebuilding the World Trade Center in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, after he signed a 99-year lease on the site for $3.25 billion in July 2001. Silverstein, who’s currently developing 2 World Trade Center, has an impressive portfolio of other projects and properties, including 120 Broadway, 120 Wall St., 529 Fifth Ave. and 1177 Sixth Ave.
Douglas Durst has never been afraid of a fight. He recently halted his Hallets Point development because of a feud with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Durst previously faced off against mayors and governors over plans for Times Square and the World Trade Center site, and ultimately played a large role in their redevelopment. Durst recently butted heads with fellow billionaire Barry Diller, nearly derailing plans for a public park on the Hudson River.
The thankless task of explaining to a development-wary populace the need for more density often falls to Marisa Lago, whose agency oversees land use decisions in New York City. The administration is well short of its stated goal of 15 rezonings, but Lago recently expressed confidence that the Gowanus plan would be approved. She pushed through Staten Island’s Bay Street rezoning last year, raising the mayor’s tally to six successful rezonings.
Few areas have undergone a greater transformation in recent years than the Brooklyn waterfront, and Jed Walentas has certainly done his part. Two Trees began with big investments in Dumbo, and the developer then converted the abandoned Domino sugar refinery site in Williamsburg into an 11-acre mixed-use housing and commercial complex, including a popular public park. Walentas is a proponent of the proposed Brooklyn-Queens streetcar line supported by the mayor.
The scion of a legendary real estate family, Richard LeFrak is one of the largest landlords in New York City, with a portfolio that includes the massive Queens residential complex that bears his last name. A close personal friend of President Donald Trump, LeFrak has advised the White House on infrastructure policy and even presidential pardons. LeFrak is leading the redevelopment of Newport, the 600-acre former rail yard on the Jersey City waterfront.
Since June, Melanie La Rocca has overseen the bureaucracy that regulates nearly 1.1 million buildings and more than 45,000 construction sites in New York City. Following a spate of construction-related deaths, La Rocca has been ramping up enforcement of new training requirements with the aim of improving on-site safety. She has also been cracking down on crumbling building facades and reducing the burden of fines on small businesses.
With a presence in dozens of countries and over $540 billion in assets, Brookfield’s reach in the real estate business is vast. Brian Kingston is the CEO of Brookfield Property Group and Brookfield Property Partners. Ric Clark, who has been with the company since 1984, is handing off his day-to-day duties, but will stay on as chairman and senior adviser to Brookfield Property Group and Brookfield Property Partners. Clark also chairs the Alliance for Downtown New York.
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer has been a key leader in the borough’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, issuing recommendations before new developments are approved or rejected by the New York City Council. She was involved in shaping and supporting the East Midtown rezoning, but opposed the 2018 rezoning of Inwood. And just last month, she won another legal victory in her effort to block four skyscrapers that were planned in the Two Bridges neighborhood.
As leader of one of the world’s largest investment firms and the largest property owner, Stephen Schwarzman manages a whopping $571 billion in assets. In 2015, Blackstone acquired Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village for $5.4 billion, and last year the firm changed its corporate structure from a partnership to a corporation to open up investment. Earlier this year, Schwarzman signed the Giving Pledge, committing to give away the majority of his wealth to philanthropy.
William Rudin comes from a real estate dynasty, heading a firm that was founded by his grandfather in 1925. Now, outside of managing the family’s portfolio, Rudin serves on the board of the Association for a Better New York, and is chairman of the Real Estate Board of New York. Through his involvement in the city, Rudin has prioritized affordable housing, tax reform and diversifying the city’s economy.
Operating in 30 international markets across the world, Rob Speyer heads his family’s commercial real estate empire, which covers 20 million square feet in New York City alone and includes buildings like Rockefeller Center and Yankee Stadium. Outside of his family’s firm, Speyer serves as chairman of the advisory board to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, and he previously served as chairman of the Real Estate Board of New York.
Often recognized as one of New York’s most powerful women, Mary Ann Tighe has worked in the real estate sector for the past 35 years and has been responsible for more than 107.5 million square feet of commercial transactions. One of the Coldwell Banker Richard Ellis executive’s many achievements during her career was being named the first female chairwoman of the Real Estate Board of New York in 2010.
Steven Cymbrowitz was appointed chairman of the Assembly Housing Committee in 2017, a position he held during the passage of the landmark “Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act” of 2019. Cymbrowitz came out in opposition to the property tax overhaul recommendations released by the mayor’s commission. The Brooklyn Democrat is also leading a task force investigating mismanagement in the New York City Mitchell-Lama affordable housing program.
Gary LaBarbera has been outspoken in supporting his organization’s member unions, which represent 100,000 workers in the building trades in New York City. LaBarbera is a staunch ally of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, applauding his many construction projects and his proposed expansion of prevailing wages. While the prevailing wage push fell short last year, and may get lost in the shuffle again this year, construction work has continued apace despite the coronavirus pandemic.
When she took the reins at the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development in May 2019, Louise Carroll became a key leader in the mayor’s Housing New York 2.0 plan, which calls for creating and/or preserving 300,000 affordable housing units by 2026. Carroll is in the process of updating the J-51 program, which provides tax breaks to landlords who renovate their properties in exchange for keeping the apartments in rent stabilization.
Since 2017, RuthAnne Visnauskas has run the state agency that preserves and develops affordable housing, oversees several homeownership programs and enforces New York’s rent regulation laws. This past year, Visnauskas has been busy dealing with the fallout from the state Legislature passing historic rent reforms, including lawsuits from landlords. With an economic downturn appearing likely, her focus could soon shift to keeping people in their homes during the coronavirus pandemic.
Anthony Malkin recently completed a $165 million makeover of the Empire State Building, which should help the iconic skyscraper continue to attract visitors amid an ever growing skyline. Malkin previously oversaw a 10-year energy efficiency retrofit of the 89-year-old structure. Last year, he was the lone property owner appointed to the board that will oversee the implementation of last year’s Climate Mobilization Act, aimed at reducing the carbon footprint of city buildings.
As chairman of the powerful Land Use Committee, Rafael Salamanca Jr. is a key player in the rezoning process. The Bronx Democrat was involved in the approval of the Garment District, Jerome Avenue and Inwood rezonings, and he recently scuttled the mayor’s rezoning proposal for Southern Boulevard, which would have directly impacted his own district. Salamanca is reportedly in the mix to be the next council speaker.
When he joined the family business in 2000, Winston Fisher had a finance background as a former analyst at JPMorgan Chase & Co. Now, in addition to his work at Fisher Brothers, he has delved into the public sphere, as co-chair of the New York City Regional Economic Development Council, and on the Citizens Budget Commission board of trustees. And in the realm of politics, Fisher donated $62,500 to Andrew Cuomo’s 2022 reelection campaign last year.
Jeffrey Gural’s business has an ownership interest in more than 50 properties, mostly located in New York City, and he runs things with the help of family: his son Eric Gural and his nephew Brian Steinwurtzel are co-chief executive officers at GFP Real Estate. Gural is also an owner of several horse racetracks and casinos, and played a key role in the expansion of casino gambling in New York.
As the leader of the New York Building Congress since January 2017, Carlo Scissura has focused on economic and infrastructure investment and job creation for the trade group’s membership of over 550 industry organizations. Recently, Scissura has been vocal about the city and state governments’ need to fix the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway before it becomes too dangerous. He was recently elected to the ceremonial role of chairmanship of the Kings County Democratic Committee.
Having served as CEO of Newmark Knight and Frank since 1979, Barry Gosin has led its acquisition of over 50 companies. The commercial real estate advisory firm went public in 2017, and in 2018 it purchased RKF Retail Holdings. Outside of Newmark Knight Frank, Gosin formerly served on the Citizens Budget Commission board of trustees, in addition to being a major campaign donor to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Peter Riguardi oversees the New York region for JLL, a Fortune 500 company that is the second largest commercial property manager in the city. Riguardi’s resume is replete with high-profile deals, including Bank of America’s move to One Bryant Park, the Port Authority and Spotify’s leases at 4 World Trade Center and, most recently, Deutsche Bank’s 1.1 million square foot lease at One Columbus Circle.
Gregory Russ came to the troubled housing authority with a track record of championing private-sector solutions in the public housing sphere. A few months after Russ’ arrival, the mayor announced that the city would turn 62,000 NYCHA apartments over to private management under the federal Rental Assistance Demonstration program, which he hopes will help cover the $40 billion in repair work that the system currently needs.
In his four decades at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, one of the world’s largest architecture firms, T.J. Gottesdiener has worked on many high-profile – and high-rising – projects, including overseeing the design and construction of One World Trade Center and 7 World Trade Center. His portfolio also includes the Time Warner Center and the Lever House renovation, in addition to the transformation of the James A. Farley Building into a modern transit hub.
James von Klemperer has made an impression around the globe with skyscrapers like the Lotte World Tower, the tallest building in South Korea. And here in New York, his firm’s design continues to shape the urban fabric, whether it is at Hudson Yards, which has transformed Manhattan’s West Side, or One Vanderbilt, which when complete will be the tallest building in Midtown and a symbol of East Midtown’s resurgence.
One of New York’s shrewdest political operators, Peter Ward in recent years has fought for restrictions on Airbnb rentals as well as a moratorium on converting hotels into condominiums. A close ally of Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Ward is behind a push that would require hotel developers to obtain a permit from the City Council before building, a measure that the Real Estate Board of New York opposes.
As the longtime leader of the Building Trades Employers Association, Louis Coletti heads the country’s largest contractor organization, representing 27 contractor associations and 1,500 construction managers, general contractors and subcontractors in New York City. Coletti’s organization published a report last year arguing that union construction workers are much safer than nonunion workers. He has also advocated for boosting the contracting capacity of minority- and women-owned business enterprises.
Having been appointed by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in October of 2018 as chairwoman and commissioner of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, Sarah Carroll leads the country’s largest municipal preservation agency and manages a staff of 80 people. Prior to her appointment, Carroll served as executive director at the agency, and she oversaw the designation of more than 4,000 buildings and sites across New York City as city landmarks.
Wharton Properties and its founder Jeff Sutton are known for having some of the priciest rents in the country for the company’s storefront properties located across Manhattan. Sutton has a reputation for working with various luxury and high-end retail brands, developing flagship properties for Prada, Giorgio Armani and Dolce & Gabbana. Since the company’s founding, Sutton has amassed a portfolio of over 120 properties throughout New York City.
Boston Properties controls about 50 million square feet of property, including trophies like the General Motors Building and the Times Square Tower. John Powers oversees the New York region for the company, a portfolio of more than 10 million square feet. Owen Thomas was elected the global chairman of the 44,000-member Urban Land Institute last year.
Though MaryAnne Gilmartin, the former CEO of Forest City Ratner, left her partnership with L&L after just two years, David Levinson and Robert Lapidus continue to pursue ambitious projects, including the $2.5 billion TSX Broadway development in Times Square. The project – a daring bet on the future of experiential retail – will feature a 46-story hotel, a nine-story retail complex, an outdoor stage – and will require lifting a historic theater 30 feet higher.
The Oxford Properties Group, the real estate arm of a Canadian pension fund, has made a major push in the U.S. over the past decade. In 2010, the company bet big on Hudson Yards, and today is a 50-50 partner with Related Companies in the group overseeing the development. In 2018, the company bought a portion of St. John’s Terminal in Manhattan, where it’s creating office space that Google will anchor.
John Alschuler, who founded the New York office of HR&A Advisors in 1984, has spearheaded the company’s expansion in the area and leads the firm’s real estate practice. Carl Weisbrod is well known in political circles for leading New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s transition team and serving as chairman of the New York City Planning Commission until early 2017. Weisbrod also served in various roles involved in revitalizing Times Square and Lower Manhattan.
In 2003, Amir Korangy published the debut edition of The Real Deal from his Brooklyn apartment, and the magazine soon became a must-read for all real estate news. Today, The Real Deal is a multifaceted media company with coverage of South Florida, Chicago and Los Angeles, in addition to New York. Editor-in-chief Stuart Elliott has been with the company since its first year.
For the past decade, Michael Kimmelman has used the architecture beat at the Times to examine the built environment through a lens that is not restricted to design. Going back to his first review, which focused on a mixed-income housing project in the Bronx, Kimmelman has tackled issues such as community development, equity, infrastructure, sustainability and post-Sandy redevelopment, helping shape the dialogue around design and public policy in the city.
In January, Toby Dodd became president of the tri-state region for Cushman & Wakefield. The firm is the largest commercial property manager in New York and, in recent years, has been ranked New York’s top investment sales firm. While Toby Dodd is new to the role, Bruce Mosler is a veteran of the company, having more than doubled its sales when he served as its president and CEO.
Since founding The Moinian Group in 1982, Joseph Moinian has assembled a prestigious portfolio of high-end properties and hotels. The company owns more than four million square feet of luxury property in the Hudson Yards area, with a new $2 billion office tower in the pipeline. At the time of its completion in 2015, Moinian’s 71-story luxury “Sky” development on Manhattan’s West Side was the largest single-tower residential building in the country.
Best known for its ownership of the New York Mets, Sterling Equities has recently put the team, which could fetch north of $2 billion, on the market. Next door to Citi Field, the firm is leading, along with Related Companies, the redevelopment of Willets Point. Sterling Equities is also working on the $1.2 billion Belmont Park project, which includes an arena for the New York Islanders.
Established in 1995, New York University’s Furman Center is a valuable resource for real estate and urban policy research. As faculty director, Ingrid Gould Ellen teaches courses at NYU and conducts research on housing and urban policy, providing insight into the impact of New York City’s rising housing costs, the lack of affordable housing and the occurrence of gentrification throughout the city as a result. Her predecessor, Vicki Been, is the mayor’s top housing official.