Thursday, March 12, 2015

Forest City Ratner executive Walsh appointed as owner representative on Rent Guidelines Board (all AY rentals rent-stabilized)

Mayor Bill de Blasio has appointed a Forest City Ratner executive as one of the two designed owner representatives on the Rent Guidelines Board, which sets the annual increase (or not) under the Rent Stabilization Law. (Last year's contentious vote was for a 1% increase.)

Scott Walsh, a Vice President of Development who has an undergraduate degree in architecture and a master's in real estate, has actually been with Forest City only since February 2014, according to his LinkedIn profile, having spent more than a decade at TF Cornerstone.

What does this mean? Well, at minimum, it helps maintain the relationship between de Blasio and Forest City Ratner, whose leader, Bruce Ratner, has been a longtime backer.

Given that the affordable housing rentals in Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park will be subject to rent-stabilization increases, Greenland Forest City Partners surely has an interest in steady increases in annual rents. (So too do all landlords.)

Forest City's conspicuous support for rent increases would sent up a tension between the developer and allies like Bertha Lewis, longtime head of New York ACORN and now heading the Black Institute.

Then again, de Blasio might believe that an industry representative with close ties might be more amenable to negotiation, and less likely to speak in "tones verging on disgust," as I described owner representative Magda Cruz at last year's meeting.

Rent freeze?

Crain's reported that the fact that de Blasio has now appointed three of his own appointees--replacing holdovers from the Bloomberg administration--may make it easier to get a rent freeze:
Jack Freund, vice president of the Rent Stabilization Association, which represents 25,000 owners of rent-regulated apartments, said the new appointments increase the likelihood that the mayor will get his way this year.
"We presume he'll try again for a rent freeze," Mr. Freund said, "with greater success."
The press release
De Blasio Administration Appoints Three Members to Rent Guidelines Board
March 12, 2015
NEW YORK—Mayor de Blasio today made three appointments to the Rent Guidelines Board. The Mayor appointed Helen Schaub and K. Sabeel Rahman as public member representatives, and Scott Walsh as an owner representative.
The Rent Guidelines Board determines annual rent adjustments for approximately one million apartments across the city subject to the Rent Stabilization Law.
Helen Schaub, one of the public member representatives appointed today, has spent more than ten years as a community organizer with a significant focus on housing. She is currently the New York State Director of Policy and Legislation at 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East....
K. Sabeel Rahman, the second public member representative appointed today, is an Assistant Professor of Law at Brooklyn Law School. Rahman has a distinguished academic career spanning much of the past decade, serving as a Teaching Fellow for Law and Social Movements at Harvard Law School, and as a Teaching Fellow and Instructor at Harvard College.... 
Scott Walsh, the owner representative appointed today, is the Vice President of Development at Forest City Ratner Companies. A trained and former practicing architect with extensive neighborhood knowledge, he has consulted for a wide array of stakeholders, including for the Urban Land Institute. Previously, Walsh spent more than a decade at TF Cornerstone, most recently as a director. In this role, he was involved in all new development projects from acquisition to stabilization, and has developed and maintained pricing models for portfolio of institutional grade rental and condo apartment houses. Before becoming director, Walsh worked as an Associate within Residential Acquisitions at TF Cornerstone, and as Residential Property Manager prior to that. Walsh serves on the board of the Long Island City Partnership.

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