Wednesday, May 14, 2008

So, who's #77 on the Observer's 100 most powerful people in NY real estate list?

According to the New York Observer's quite arbitrary list of the 100 Most Powerful People in New York Real Estate, Bruce Ratner is #8, Frank Gehry is #51, and I am number #77.

While the listing is flattering, I can't say they have me convinced. For example, Charles Bagli, the veteran real estate/development reporter for the New York Times--and formerly at the Observer--does not appear on the list and he's way more powerful than I am. (Despite my criticisms of his AY coverage, he's a very able reporter.) And I am not more powerful than Nicolai Ouroussoff, the Times's architecture critic, at #85, nor Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, chair of the Assembly's Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions, at #89; he has the power to grill public officials. And where's Julia Vitullo-Martin of the Manhattan Institute, a savvy and provocative commentator?

Among those deserving but absent from the list are two not so well-known but very important officials responsible for affordable housing financing, Marc Jahr, president of the New York City Housing Development Corporation and Priscilla Almodovar, president and CEO of the New York State Housing Finance Agency and affiliated agencies. Also absent but deserving is Bertha Lewis, executive director of New York ACORN, the activist group that, among other things, signed the AY affordable housing agreement. (There were only two African-Americans on the list of 100; Lewis would've been a third.)

Jahr and Almodovar especially fit into the Observer's "finance-centric criterion":
Power in New York City real estate means money—its acquisition, spending and creation—especially now, as the market enters a tremulous sunset after several bright, shiny years.


Then again, if the ranking will help me get some phone calls and e-mails returned, maybe I shouldn't complain. And I am probably the only person on the list who's moonlighting.

Others on the list

Mayor Mike Bloomberg is #2, Amanda Burden, chairperson of the City Planning Commission, is #5, and Governor David Paterson #13. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is #22, while Steven Spinola, president of the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), is #31. Gary Barnett of Extell Development, the only other bidder for the MTA's Vanderbilt Yard (18 months after Forest City Ratner was anointed), is #32.

Shaun Donovan, Commissioner of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, is #40. Tino Hernandez, Chairman of the New York City Housing Authority, is #41. Robert B. Tierney, Chairman of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, is #44.

Avi Schick, Acting President and CEO of the Empire State Development Corporation, is #61. Ed Ott, Executive Director of the New York City Central Labor Council, is #70. Bill Goss, Real Estate Editor of The New York Times, is #75.

Lobbyist Richard Lipsky is #80. (See Lipsky's comment on my "vendetta" and my response.) Marvin Markus, Chairman of the Rent Guidelines Board, is #86. Andrew Berman, Executive Director, Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, is #88. Lockhart Steele, Publisher of Curbed Network, is #91. Joseph Sitt, Principal, Thor Equities, is #93. Joe Chan, President of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, is #94. City Council Member David Yassky is #99.

The Observer on Ratner

8

Bruce Ratner

Chairman of Forest City Ratner Companies

The leader of what is perhaps New York’s most high-profile development, the controversy magnet Atlantic Yards, Bruce Ratner is one of the most active developers in the city, often pursuing large, publicly administered projects. He’s recently taken a liking to famous architects, ensuring that his developments leave a notable impression on the skyline.


The Observer on Gehry

51

Frank Gehry

Owner of Gehry Partners LLP

If Bruce Ratner is right, and his 16-skyscraper-and-arena Atlantic Yards project comes to fruition, Mr. Gehry, its designer, will alter Brooklyn’s aesthetic as we know it. If, however, it continues to stumble … Well, just ask the Municipal Arts Society, which recently put out some ugly renderings to that effect.


The Observer on AYR

77

Norman Oder

Journalist/Blogger, Atlantic Yards Report

The Park Slope-based Norman Oder runs a one-man, one-topic journalistic operation that brings a constant stream of mostly critical articles on Atlantic Yards. His presence appears to have propelled attention and criticism of the project now 17 months since approval.

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