Some of the biggest names in New York City real estate implored Mayor Bill de Blasio to take “immediate action” to improve public safety, cleanliness and the city’s quality of life.
The letter, drafted by pro-business group Partnership for New York City, was signed by 163 business leaders, including many of New York’s biggest developers and landlords. The letter, first reported by the New York Times, acknowledged the city’s success in containing the coronavirus, but said that “unprecedented numbers of New Yorkers are unemployed, facing homelessness, or otherwise at risk.”
“There is widespread anxiety over public safety, cleanliness and other quality of life issues that are contributing to deteriorating conditions in commercial districts and neighborhoods across the five boroughs,” it stated. The letter does not make specific policy recommendations, but said the business community stands ready to “advise and support” an effort to correct the dire situation the city finds itself in, as it grapples with a $9 billion budget hole and considers laying off thousands of public workers.
The letter cited a July report published by the Partnership for New York City, which stressed a need for infrastructure improvements and public-private partnerships. The report said that city and state governments need to spend less and leverage more private financing and federal government money. Those recommendations hew closely to Gov. Cuomo’s own preferences, which have included the possibility of rolling budget cuts and repeated calls for federal aid.
But the report also acknowledges that raising tax revenues may be necessary in order to bridge what it described as a “three-year trough in revenues.” Cuomo had repeatedly dismissed the possibility of raising taxes, out of concern that businesses will flee New York in favor of nearby states with more forgiving tax codes. Earlier this week, however, Cuomo said that raising taxes was a possibility as other options run out.
The report also emphasized the need to build more housing and rezone more areas of the city. Several de Blasio rezonings have come into question recently, and the report warns against ceding ground to “anti-development activists.”
The letter’s signatories include Charles Bendit, co-CEO of Taconic Investment Partners; Douglas Eisenberg, CEO of major multifamily landlord A&E Real Estate; Jeff Blau, CEO of Related Companies; Scott Rechler, CEO of RXR Realty; Steven Roth, CEO of Vornado Realty Trust; Marty Burger, CEO of Silverstein Properties; Douglas Durst, chairman of the Durst Organization; Rob Speyer, CEO of Tishman Speyer; Edward Minskoff, CEO of Edward J. Minskoff Equities, Dan Tishman, principal of Tishman Realty; MaryAnne Gilmartin, CEO of the recently-formed woman-led firm MAG Partners; and Stephen Schwarzman, CEO of Blackstone Group.