Well, the list (slideshow) "was chosen internally by The Observer using subjective criteria" and, below, I offer a few comments.
Note that the numbers in parentheses reflect last year's rank.
7. Michael Bloomberg (9)In the case of Atlantic Yards, he incentivized development by allowing the state to override city zoning.
Mayor of New York
The Christmas blizzard, Cathie Black and a high real unemployment rate haven’t been good for a mayor suffering from third-term flu. But Mr. Bloomberg remains immensely influential for Big Real Estate, especially when it comes to incentivizing development and ensuring plenty of fresh spaces for it (read: rezonings). It doesn’t hurt that he’s the richest guy in town—this is New York, so that matters—and that he uses his office to advocate the sorts of pro-business policies that make the industry swoon.
The DOT commissioner
13. Janette Sadik-Khan (95)Um, Moses used huge amounts of federal money to displace people and create roads, housing, and parks. The budget for bicycle lanes is minuscule, and the amount of local input--however controversial the lanes--is far greater than in Moses's era.
Commissioner of the Department of Transportation
Love her or hate her, no one has transformed more of the city over the past two years than the strong-willed transportation czarina. From Broadway to Water Street to Dumbo, Ms. Sadik-Khan has created simple sanctuaries with little more than asphalt, paint and some folding chairs. More plazas are on the way, as are fancy new bus lanes, from the East Side to 34th Street and into the heart of Brooklyn. But it is another set of exclusive lanes, ones involving bicycles, that have shown her true power as Mrs. Moses.
The Russian mogul
24. Mikhail Prokhorov (43)Prokhorov owns a 45% stake in the arena holding company, which means he's less of a real estate investor than Bruce Ratner, and, as I wrote last year, but Ratner has the connections and pays for the lobbying (and still does, as documented today). He's still more powerful, in my book.
Controlling owner of the New Jersey Nets
When Mr. Prokhorov stepped forward last year as the new owner of the New Jersey Nets, he not only established himself as the latest real estate investor to interlope the city’s gridlock of property assets, but also forced himself onto Gotham’s cultural scene. So much so that New York magazine named him as the leader of the city’s “Global Russians.” Whether he can really make it in this town has yet to be seen, but, either way, for now he’s bought himself a ticket to the top.
A small bump-up for Bruce
48. Bruce Ratner (53)Not the largest, but the tallest prefab structure. And the last of the lawsuits still lingers.
Chairman and CEO of Forest City Ratner
With the last of the lawsuits behind him, Mr. Ratner began work on what may still be the most cutting-edge arena in the country, even without Frank Gehry designing it. The developer is struggling to find financing for the first apartment tower on the site-but if he does, there are rumors it could be the largest prefabricated structure in the world, and something with the possibility to transform the way New York builds. And there is a certain Manhattan apartment building he and Mr. Gehry managed to finish together.
Some lawyers behind the deal
88. Jonathan Mechanic and Stephen Lefkowitz (68)
Chairman of real estate department and partner, respectively, at Fried Frank
Throw a rock during the Real Estate Board of New York’s annual gala and you’re sure to hit one of Mr. Mechanic’s (pictured) current or former clients. Hope it’s the latter because, while charming and personable, he and Mr. Lefkowitz won’t hesitate to chew you up on behalf of said clients, who include[d] Donald Trump (No. 14), Jerry Speyer (No. 15), Michael Bloomberg (No. 7), Steven Roth (No. 4), Stephen Ross (No. 10), Bruce Ratner (No. 48), Douglas Durst (No. 1), Mort Zuckerman (No. 5) and Sheldon Solow, to name a small fraction.