New REBNY chair taking stock before talking

November 10, 2006 12:00AM

News that Steve Ross will be the next chairman of the Real Estate Board of New York surprised many, if only because it had long been held as gospel that current developer and Metropolitan Transit Authority boss Peter Kalikow would take the position. When news of his imminent chairmanship came Thursday, Ross too was caught off guard–if just a bit.

“I had heard Kalikow was going to get it, so I was a bit surprised,” said Ross, chairman and CEO of The Related Companies and a long-time REBNY board member.

The stress is, however, that he was ‘a bit’ surprised.

“It’s not a shock,” Ross said. “I mean, I’ve been involved on the executive committee for years and I’m one of the most active developers in New York. Is it a shock? No. But I look at it as a great honor and one that I didn’t expect.”

Ross’ resume does look like that of a chairman.

He’s served on REBNY’s executive committee for more than a decade, is on the board for the Guggenheim Museum and serves as a trustee for a host of other non-profits. And his company, The Related Companies, built the Time Warner Center and has a $10 billion development portfolio.

So where will this industry veteran steer REBNY under his leadership? He won’t say yet.

“They asked me yesterday [to be chairman] and I haven’t had any conversations with the people I really need to have conversations with. It’s not like suddenly I have a new platform,” Ross said. “Sure, I have my ideas, but I don’t want to put them in print before I’ve had a chance to talk with who I need to talk to.”

Between now and his official ascension to chairman on January 1, Ross will be no doubt be talking to those he needs to talk to.

“Remember, REBNY is the voice of the industry, not just of me,” Ross said. By Tim Moran