John Banks, who has led the Real Estate Board of New York for four years, is stepping down as president.
Banks presided over the influential trade group during successful battles over the renewal of the 421a tax law and a rezoning of Midtown East. But his departure comes mere weeks after the industry was dealt a historic blow with the passage of tenant-friendly rent laws. Banks will become a stay-at-home dad, which he told Politico is his “dream job.” REBNY’s executive vice president, Jim Whelan, will take over on July 1.
The departure of Banks, who turns 58 next month, comes during a politically shaky time for the real estate industry. Earlier this month, the legislature enacted sweeping reforms to the state’s rent regulation law, changes widely regarded as devastating to the city’s multifamily landlords. A number of landlords and developers hired their own lobbyists to advocate their positions during the most recent session, and left-leaning politicians have swore off accepting real estate industry donations. Banks told Politico that the fallout the new law didn’t impact his decision to leave REBNY.
“I am concerned that some of the public policies that are being discussed and debated are not founded in an empirical, analytical approach to the problem. That has warning signs in my mind,” Banks said. “We need to be more grassroots; we need to be more like some of the other advocacy groups and show some of the elected officials that we are not just wealthy Manhattan owners.”
Though the renewal of 421a occurred under Banks’ tenure, he credited Whelan and the president of REBNY’s board of directors at the time, Rob Speyer, with that victory.
Whelan, who previously worked for the Muss Development Company and served as chief of staff to former Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff during the Bloomberg administration, has largely worked behind-the-scenes, handling REBNY’s day-to-day policy initiatives.
“I am both honored and humbled, and I look forward to serving as REBNY President to help our city stay ahead of the competition well into the future,” he said in a prepared statement. “We have many challenges ahead of us, but we are uniquely positioned to continue being the best place in the world to work and live.”