These real estate execs will help Cuomo reopen New York

Governor unveils another panel to restart the economy

New York /
Apr.April 28, 2020 06:38 PM
Clockwise from left: Scott Rechler of RXR Realty, James Whelan of REBNY, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Bill Rudin of Rudin Management, Rob Speyer of Tishman Speyer and Jonathan Gray of Blackstone (Illustration by The Real Deal)

Clockwise from left: Scott Rechler of RXR Realty, James Whelan of REBNY, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Bill Rudin of Rudin Management, Rob Speyer of Tishman Speyer and Jonathan Gray of Blackstone (Illustration by The Real Deal)

Some familiar names from the real estate industry are on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s newest panel to help reopen New York’s economy.

The advisory board announced Tuesday will be headed up by two former top aides to Cuomo: Steve Cohen, general counsel at MacAndrews & Forbes, a private equity firm run by Ronald Perelman; and Bill Mulrow, who was hired as a senior managing director at Blackstone Group in 2017.

Blackstone, the world’s largest commercial landlord, will have a hand in shaping the nation’s economic recovery as well. Cuomo also tapped Jonathan Gray, the firm’s president and COO, as did President Donald Trump when he formed his own reopening board last week.

Cuomo’s board includes other top real estate executives who have been his close allies, as well as banks and financial institutions active in commercial real estate lending and investing.

The “New York Forward Re-opening Advisory Board” includes Rob Speyer, CEO of Tishman Speyer; James Whelan, president of the Real Estate Board of New York; Jeffrey Wilpon, senior vice president at Sterling Equities; Bill Rudin, CEO of Rudin Management and chairman of REBNY; Scott Rechler, CEO of major New York developer and landlord RXR Realty; Kewsong Lee, co-CEO of private equity firm the Carlyle Group; Jane Fraser, president of commercial lender Citigroup; René Jones, CEO of M&T Bank; and John Waldron, president of investment bank Goldman Sachs.

Real estate executives make up just a small portion of the 116-person list, which also includes labor union leaders, experts in higher education, representatives from pharmaceutical companies, chambers of commerce and sports team managers. The advisory board will be tasked with reopening New York on a regional basis.

The extent of its influence remains to be seen. Cuomo previously organized a seven-state, 21-member task force to coordinate reopening efforts regionally. The governor, who has a reputation as a micromanager, then laid out his own reopening plan Sunday.

In a press release, Cuomo outlined guidelines for the state’s 10 regions — Capital Region, Central New York, Finger Lakes, Mid-Hudson Valley, Mohawk Valley, New York City, North Country, Long Island, Southern Tier and Western New York — to reopen in phases. The first phase will include construction and manufacturing facilities deemed to be low-risk for spread of the coronavirus.

The Real Estate Board of New York, whose members include the city’s foremost owners of office buildings, is already working with Cuomo on a plan to reopen New York City. The lobby group is working with Cuomo to determine what percentage of the workforce will initially be allowed to return to work and what levels of density are appropriate in buildings.

The governor is following the Centers for Disease Control’s recommendation that a phased reopening can begin once a region has a 14-day decline in the hospitalization rate.


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