When the Real Estate Board of New York talks, local bigwigs and politicians listen.
The city’s oldest and most influential real estate trade association represents a who’s who of owners, building investors, real estate executives and service professionals. In addition, members include residential and commercial brokers and managers, financial companies, title companies, lawyers, accountants, architects, bankers, utilities and even media companies like The New York Post.
Members are intimately involved in crucial city matters, including the formulation of tax policy, city planning and zoning, land use policy, landmarking, the preservation of affordable housing and other structures, rental and conversion regulations and conditions, building codes and lots of other legislation that shapes the city.
Members work with city residents of all incomes, as well as individuals all over the globe who may want to live, invest or buy in New York. In addition, it publishes several reports providing indicators of market pricing in the residential, retail and commercial sectors.
Informally known as the Liar’s Ball, the organization’s 124th annual banquet Thursday will only accommodate about 2,000 of REBNY’s 17,000 members at the ballroom of the Hilton Hotel & Towers on Sixth Avenue.
While younger and newer members and wannabes may not be able to afford a $1,400 ticket, they are still integral to the evening. Black-tie parties pop up at venues in and around the Hilton, and members can be seen roaming the hallways, hoping to rub shoulders with influential members, exchange business cards that may lead to future deals and hope they get slipped an entry card to the main event.
At 6:30 p.m., the anteroom of the Hilton’s ballroom becomes the “REBNY Lounge” for cocktails and pre-dinner networking. Social-media sharing is encouraged under the hashtag #Rebny124. Down the hall, a VIP cocktail party brings together the dais guests and includes REBNY’s board of governors, the evening’s honorees and government officials.
Recently, the governor and mayor have held court on opposite ends of the reception, while the City Council Speaker, members and staff of the City Council, state senators and assembly representatives, along with members of the House of Representatives and Senate, mingle with industry insiders.
For the third time, REBNY Chairman William “Bill” Rudin will preside over the raucous event. Much like season tickets, every company sits in the same location as the previous year, with longtime city-based family developers hosting tables in the front of the room.
At Thursday’s dinner, REBNY will also honor individuals who have demonstrated commitments to the city and the industry. But most guests spend more time mingling than chowing down at their own tables and rarely pay attention to what goes on at the dais.
New REBNY President James Whelan will try to quiet the yakking crowd during the 30-minute awards ceremony and the screening of a short educational video about the importance of the 2020 Census.
The John E. Zuccotti Public Service Award, which recognizes a New Yorker who has displayed exceptional accomplishments and public service, will be posthumously awarded to the late Jay Kriegel, who was the senior advisor for the Related Companies. The award is named for the late Zuccotti, a former chairman of REBNY who served as first deputy mayor, chairman of the City Planning Commission and chairman of Brookfield Asset Management.
Another posthumous honor will go to the late Héctor Figueroa, former president of Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union, who will receive the Kenneth R. Gerrety Humanitarian Award.
The Young Men’s/Women’s Real Estate Association of New York has selected Robin Fisher, a senior managing director at Newmark Knight Frank, to receive its Young Real Estate Professional of the Year Award, which recognizes strong integrity, professionalism and personal ethics.
Other honorees include: David R. Greenbaum, a vice chairman of Vornado Realty Trust; Jodi Pulice, founder and CEO of JRT Realty Group; Kevin R. Wang, owner of KRW Realty Advisors; and Henry M. Celestino, vice chairman of L&L Holding.
Over the years, those on the dais have resorted to cymbals, megaphones and other devices to quiet the crowd during the ceremony. Former REBNY President Steve Spinola was often teased for his 30 years of “shussshing.” A newly elected governor once walked out in a huff after his attempt at a long-winded speech was ignored. Things won’t be any different tonight.