The Interview: Bill Rudin on why the office market may be more resilient than you think

Chair of REBNY & Rudin Management on the great WFH experiment, property taxes and why a crisis is a terrible thing to waste

New York /
Jun.June 02, 2020 09:00 AM

Bill Rudin is betting on the office as a magnet for human connection.

“We live in a real world where human interaction is critical,” Rudin, the head of Rudin Management and the chair of the Real Estate Board of New York, said in a conversation with The Real Deal‘s Hiten Samtani. He was responding to the recent announcements by major tech companies including Facebook and Twitter that they would be transitioning to a partially remote or remote-first work environment.

“Headlines are that the real estate market’s going to collapse, and that the big cities are going to be set back,” he said. “We’ve had setbacks before, and we’ve figured out ways to recreate ourselves.”

(Watch more of The Interview, a series of in-depth conversations with real estate leaders and newsmakers hosted by Hiten Samtani, here.)

Rudin said that for every company that chose to reduce its footprint, there would be upstarts that would take their place.

“Five years ago, if I said to you, ‘well TikTok’s going to come to New York,’ people would say, ‘what’s a TikTok? Is that the watch on your wrist?,'” he said, referring to the 232,000-square-foot deal the video-sharing app just signed at Durst Organization’s One Five One (formerly 4 Times Square).

Rudin is on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s council to reopen New York’s economy, and spoke about the discussions members are having, such as measures that buildings and construction unions will have to take. He and Samtani also discussed REBNY’s recent call on the city for property-tax relief — a move that’s in sharp contrast to what major landlords did during the city’s fiscal crisis in the 1970s, when they prepaid their taxes.

“The difference is now it’s not just about New York,” Rudin said. “We just said, be cognizant of, we cannot go forward and increase tax burdens that are significantly higher than other places, and create an environment in which we’re not competitive anymore.”


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