It’s rarely a good sign when a press release is issued late on a Friday afternoon, as was the case this week when Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled his construction and real estate advisory council. That’s when the fewest people (and journalists) are paying attention to the news, which makes it a good time to air dirty laundry or just put out information not viewed as having PR value.
But perhaps the panel names were emailed at 5:24 p.m. Friday just because de Blasio has been busy holding press briefings, pleading on national television for money to close a $7.4 billion budget deficit and trying to turn back time to mid-February, when he was dining shoulder-to-shoulder with local leaders to assure New Yorkers that eating out was safe.
Whatever the case, de Blasio at 5:24 p.m. Friday revealed the final six of his 10 councils — each with dozens of members — to “inform the administration’s efforts to restart the economy and city life,” as his release put it.
With roughly 400 panel members in all, it’s questionable how much influence any will have, especially on a mayor known for disregarding the advice of his own staff and political team. It is also unclear how much power de Blasio will have to restart the economy, given that Gov. Andrew Cuomo calls the shots on such decisions (although sometimes after the mayor has made or suggested them).
Still, with New York’s economy hobbled and billions of dollars at stake, it is better to be on the mayor’s advisory council (as Related Companies, CBRE and Skanska are) than not (Blackstone, Vornado Realty Trust, Rent Stabilization Association). Blackstone and the de Blasio administration are at odds over Stuyvesant Town. Vornado CEO Steven Roth mused on an earnings call this week that he wishes former mayor Michael Bloomberg were back in office. And the RSA, which is calling for rent hikes, never had a chance.
The real estate and construction list has no fewer than 30 names, most of them familiar to any New Yorker for whom “as-of-right,” “pencil out” and “cap rate” are kitchen-table phrases. The mayor made sure to diversify his panel with women and people of color, although — or perhaps because — construction and development remain white male–dominated industries.
There is some geographic diversity as well; leading Staten Island developer Casandra Properties’ CEO James Prendamano is included.
No residential brokerage heads made the list, but they are indirectly represented by William Zeckendorf, whose Terra Holdings owns Halstead and Brown Harris Stevens, and by the Real Estate Board of New York’s James Whelan.
Here are the members, listed alphabetically, of course:
1. Donnel Baird, BlocPower
2. Lawrence Benenson, Benenson Capital Partners
3. Jeff Blau, Related Companies
4. Susan Camerata, Wavecrest Management
5. Tim Cawley, ConEdison
6. Lou Coletti, Building Trades Employers’ Association
7. Larry Englestein, 32BJ SEIU Secretary Treasurer
8. Laura Ettelman, SOM
9. Don Fusco, Skanska USA
10. Kirk Goodrich, Monadnock Development
11. Colvin Grannum, Bed-Stuy Restoration
12. Hana Kassem, KPF
13. Ericka Keller, Brisa Builders
14. Gary LaBarbera, Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York
15. Meredith Marshall, BRP Companies
16. Michael McKelvy, Gilbane Building Company
17. Cheryl McKissack Daniel, McKissack
18. Ron Moelis, L+M Development Partners
19. Nayan Parikh, Ashnu International Inc
20. James Prendamano, Casandra Properties
21. James Rubin, Meridiam
22. William Rudin, Rudin Management
23. Carlo Scissura, New York Building Congress
24. Mary Ann Tighe, CBRE
25. Dan Tishman, Tishman/AECOM
26. Luis Tormenta, The LiRo Group
27. Elizabeth Velez, Velez Organization
28. James Whelan, REBNY
29. Francilia Wilkins, RFW Consultants
30. William Zeckendorf, Terra Holdings