Douglas Durst, chair of the Durst Organization, was nominated to be the next chair of the Real Estate Board of New York, the industry’s most influential trade group announced today.
“It is hard to imagine a more appropriate leader to navigate our industry through these extraordinarily challenging times,” Bill Rudin, current chair of REBNY, said in a statement on REBNY’s website.
In his statement, Durst cited the Durst Organization’s century-plus history in New York and its ability to navigate some of the city’s greatest challenges — including the fiscal crisis of the 1970s and the 9/11 terrorist attacks — as experience that would help him in his new position.
“This is not even our first pandemic,” he said. “We survived the influenza pandemic of 1918.”
Jim Whelan, REBNY president, said in a statement that he looks forward to “leveraging” Durst’s “experience and perspective on smart and sustainable economic recovery.”
Durst is taking the helm at a time when REBNY has been facing a drop in revenue due to a decline in membership dues and a loss of income from events. In June, the trade group announced a 15 percent cut in expenses through layoffs and executive pay cuts.
The trade group collected $9.7 million in dues in 2018, tax filings show.
Durst would also be taking on this role following one of New York’s most significant legislative battles. Last June, the state legislature approved extensive changes to New York’s rent stabilization laws. Durst was one of the industry titans who reportedly made a last minute appeal to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, asking that he veto the legislation. The attempt failed, underscoring that real estate executives could no longer bank on the governor tempering progressive policies opposed by the industry.
At the city level, Durst would deal with a new mayor during his term, as well as four new borough presidents and an almost entirely new City Council. When asked about the change in city leadership, Durst told The Real Deal that he’s an optimist.
“I’m hoping that we’ll have more realistic politicians who don’t simply bash real estate and development as their platform,” he said.