In many ways, this year’s REBNY gala and banquet was business as usual: The Hilton was packed, awards were presented and speeches were ignored. There were, however, several signs of change for the 121-year-old organization including a less-stringent dress-code: for the first time, black-tie was optional.
“It’s an opportunity to explore ways for us to make the event more accessible,” said REBNY president John Banks, who spoke to TRD‘s managing web editor, Hiten Samtani, on the red carpet. The newly lax dress code isn’t the only change that Banks is bringing to REBNY.
The organization has recently made a push to the outer boroughs, which Banks spoke enthusiastically about. He said that the Bronx is the next frontier.
“It has lower land prices, it has a great transportation infrastructure…” Banks said. “I think it’s a great opportunity.”
Also on the horizon is the renewal of the 421a tax abatement program, under its new moniker “Affordable New York.” This too, was a topic that Banks spoke about with optimism.
“It really was a collaborative effort,” said Banks, before giving thanks to both Governor Andrew Cuomo and Gary Labarbera, who both worked towards crucial legislative agreements on the affordable housing program. “We are on the cusp of passing 421a.”
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