Editor's note: Public servant, private developer

Jan.January 01, 2019 10:00 AM

Stuart Elliott

Donald Trump went from being a New York City developer to occupying the highest political office in the country. Eliot Spitzer moved in the opposite direction and went from the highest political office in the state to running his family’s real estate firm.

In this month’s cover story, we sit down with the “Love Gov,” who just completed his first ground-up development project — a massive 850-unit rental complex on the Williamsburg waterfront.

Spitzer talks about redemption in the wake of the scandal that brought him down as governor and reflects on his lower-profile career in bricks and mortar. While he obviously has his detractors, he gives a unique view on the intersection of government and business, and how public policy and the profit-driven private sector can work together.

In our interview, Spitzer weighs in — sometimes against his own financial interest as a developer — on tax abatements and the new Democratic majority in Albany. That sets him apart from the crowd in NYC real estate, where so many bigwigs seem mostly focused on how government will impact their own coffers (especially with Trump in office).

It will be interesting to see what Spitzer can add to the public-private dialogue going forward and how his role in the industry evolves over the coming years. (Next up for him is a 1.4 million-square-foot development in Hudson Yards in partnership with Related.) Would Spitzer even make a good REBNY chairman a decade from now (if he stays out the tabloids)? I guess we’ll see.

Elsewhere in the issue, we have a piece looking at how homeless shelters in New York, surprisingly enough, are a very profitable sector for developers. And check out our investigative story on elevator accidents (an important topic considering New Yorkers take 35 million elevator rides every day). Following our inquiries, the de Blasio administration reversed its stance and now favors additional licensing among inspectors. We also have a piece on broker side hustles — businesses that include everything from whiskey to watermelons. Finally, see our story on the large supply of new condo inventory in the Brooklyn market — not great for areas like Williamsburg as L train service between Manhattan and Brooklyn gets set to close.

With 2018 behind us, it’s also time to take a look at the most popular stories of the past year. Our no-holds-barred interview with Charlie Kushner finished at the top of the list (Kushner’s choice words for the press: “fake news,” “fucking nonsense,” “totally false” and “like parrots, you just report what the other idiots say”), followed by our big scoop on Google buying Chelsea Market for more than $2 billion, the most expensive building purchase of the year and the second-highest in the city’s history.

The Real Deal’s most-read articles from 2018: 

1. “Kushner, Unfiltered” by Will Parker & Konrad Putzier (June issue) 

2. “Google is buying Chelsea Market building for over $2 billion” by Mark Maurer (Feb. 6, online)

3. “The anatomy of construction corruption” by Kathryn Brenzel (April issue) 

4. “Town Residential shutting down sales, leasing business” by E.B. Solomont & Hiten Samtani (April 19, online) 

5. “The death of the brokerage” by E.B. Solomont (May issue) 

6. “Real estate’s tech disruptors” by Konrad Putzier (Feb. issue) 

7. “Rough cut” by Konrad Putzier (April issue) 

8. “No down-payment, no problem: BoA underwriting $10B in subprime mortgages” by Erin Hudson (Oct. 14, online)

9. “When the glass ceiling won’t break” by Kathryn Brenzel (Jan. issue) 

10. “We ranked Manhattan’s most active real estate developers” by Kathryn Brenzel (Feb. 19, online)

Finally, and sadly, we have an obituary on the irrepressible Faith Hope Consolo. The retail maven was a force of nature, and in some ways, her brash and unapologetic approach to deal-making (and self-promotion) made her the archetype of a real estate broker, and the perfect New Yorker, too.

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