Ready to rumble: Ross, Speyer nearly come to blows over 421a

Developers eventually settled their differences

An illustration of what a fight between Rob Speyer and Stephen Ross might look like
An illustration of what a fight between Rob Speyer and Stephen Ross might look like

Two of New York real estate’s toughest players recently almost got into a fist fight — or at least a shoving match — over the future of 421a.

Rob Speyer, head of Tishman Speyer, and Stephen Ross, chairman of the Related Cos., had to be physically separated when their argument at a Real Estate Board of New York meeting looked it might escalate, Crain’s reported, citing several unnamed witnesses.

During the meeting, Speyer attempted to rally support for restarting wage-rule negotiations with constructions unions, in hopes of bringing back the 421a tax abatement program, Crain’s reported.

“Only you” are interested in resuming the talks, Ross told Speyer, according to Crain’s.

The 421a tax abatement — which grants property tax abatements of up to 25 years to developers who fulfill affordability requirements — expired in January following the breakdown of negations between REBNY and the construction unions over prevailing wage requirements.

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Per the Crain’s report, Speyer approached Ross afterwards, and the two got into it. Ross leapt from his chair and cried, “This isn’t the NFL. I’m not going to be pushed around,” the news publication reported.

Ross owns the Miami Dolphins. Speyer is the REBNY chair.

The two were forcibly separated by the aptly-named real estate attorney Leonard Boxer of Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, who had been sitting with Ross, according to Crain’s.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” a witness told Crain’s.

Tempers eventually cooled; the developers hugged it out just a few minutes later, on the street in front of REBNY’s 570 Lexington Avenue headquarters, according to the Crain’s report.

“REBNY meetings often feature passionate and frank exchanges,” Ross and Speyer said in a joint statement, “especially on issues as important as the future of affordable housing in New York City. And at the end, we always depart as friends and respected colleagues. Our most recent meeting was no different.” [Crain’s] Ariel Stulberg