The Real Deal New York

REBNY gets ready for annual banquet

Real estate pros plan for glitzy event, while tenant's advocates plan protest

January 18, 2012 11:00AM
By Leigh Kamping-Carder

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From left: Pam Liebman, president and CEO of the Corcoran Group, Douglas Durst, president of the Durst Organization, REBNY's Steven Spinola and the protesters at last year's event

Real estate professionals are looking ahead to the industry’s most high-profile night of the year, the Real Estate Board of New York’s annual banquet, scheduled for tomorrow evening. More than 2,000 guests are expected to attend this year’s gathering at the New York Hilton Hotel at 1335 Sixth Avenue between 53rd and 54th streets, according to a REBNY spokesperson.

Now in its 116th year, the night is billed as a prime networking opportunity that attracts big-name developers, brokers and politicians. Last year’s attendees included Mayor Michael Bloomberg; William Rudin, CEO of Rudin Management; Dottie Herman, the CEO of Prudential Douglas Elliman; Senator Charles Schumer; Bruce Mosler, chairman of global brokerage at Cushman & Wakefield; and many others.

But not everyone is looking forward to hobnobbing with so-called real estate royalty. The Metropolitan Council on Housing, a tenant’s rights group that organized a protest at the event last year, is reprising a demonstration for this year’s banquet.

“If any entity embodies what’s wrong with the power of the wealthiest 1 percent, it’s the Real Estate Board of New York,” the group said this past Friday in an email to supporters.

Met Council opposes tax breaks for developers and landlords and the apparent weakening of rent regulation laws, and is also calling for stronger tenant protections. Last year, about 30 people gathered inside the Hilton, chanting and handing out fliers, before hotel staff escorted them off the premises. Still, as The Real Deal reported, many of the 2,000 guests were unable to hear the demonstration from the third-floor ballroom where the banquet took place.

A representative for Met Council did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

This year, REBNY will honor six real estate heavyweights for their contribution to the community. The honorees, announced in November, include Douglas Durst, chairman of the Durst Organization; David Green, executive director of Cushman & Wakefield; Pamela Liebman, president and CEO of the Corcoran Group; Howard Rubenstein, president of the public relations firm Rubenstein Associates; Gerard Schumm, executive vice president of RFR Realty; and Simon Ziff, president of the Ackman-Ziff Real Estate Group.

“Through their accomplishments and contributions to the community, this year’s honorees have again confirmed the strength of the New York real estate market and the importance of the industry on our city,” REBNY President Steven Spinola said in a November statement.

Durst gets the top honor, a lifetime achievement award named for Bernard H. Mendik, a prominent landlord and longtime REBNY chairman who died in 2001. Green has been chosen as the Young Real Estate Man of the Year based on his integrity, ability and commitment to the Young Men’s/Women’s Real Estate Association of New York, the REBNY group that selects the winner of the award.

Schumm will receive the George M. Brooker Management Executive of the Year Award, which honors professionalism and civic achievement in the commercial management industry, while Liebman is getting the Kenneth R. Gerrety Humanitarian Award for “meritorious service to the community.”

Rubenstein will receive the Harry B. Helmsley Distinguished New Yorker Award, which honors “invaluable contributions to New York’s civic welfare,” while Ziff has been honored with the Louis Smadbeck Broker Recognition Award for his work as an executive.

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