Real estate powerhouses missing from magazine’s vaunted list

Tally of 50 who “actually run New York” omits Rudin, Rechler, Roth, Ross and more

SL Green, RXR
SL Green CEO Marc Holliday, RXR CEO Scott Rechler and other industry titans are not among New York's most powerful people, according to New York Magazine (Getty, RXR)

If you’re a real estate power broker but didn’t make New York magazine’s famous “50 most powerful New Yorkers” list, don’t feel bad. You’re in good company.

Only five members of the list hail from real estate, even though the industry rivals finance as New York’s most important. The favored five are Margaret Anadu, who left Goldman Sachs’ Urban Investment Group for Vistria Group; co-op queen Serena Boardman; Gregg Lemkau, who runs Michael Dell’s MSD Partners; former hotel workers union chief Peter Ward, and Soho China’s Zhang Xin.

Nowhere to be found were the heads of real estate groups, such as Jim Whelan of REBNY, Joe Strasburg of the Rent Stabilization Association and Jay Martin of the Community Housing Improvement Program. (“I refuse to join any club that would have me,” Martin deadpanned on LinkedIn.)

Construction, another giant city industry, was also shut out. Sorry, Carlo Scissura of the New York Building Congress and Lou Coletti, the departing CEO of the Building Trades Employers Association.

Coletti has led his group, which represents 1,200 contractors, since 1997. Missing out on the Economic Development Corporation’s top post didn’t help Scissura, but it wouldn’t have mattered: Andrew Kimball, who got the job, didn’t make the list either.

Absent as well were big, politically connected developers such as RXR’s Scott Rechler, who controls more than 20 million square feet, is building a marquee skyscraper and has chaired or sat on a veritable alphabet soup of important boards: MTA, PANYNJ and RPA, not to mention the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

How to explain New York’s choices? The magazine says it retooled its list to reflect a retreat or lack of ambition by traditional power brokers it describes as “staid” — CEOs, elected officials and such — and went with an unranked, “unconventional” array of people with “inside,” “hidden” and “stealthy” power, “leveraged by people who are fearsomely regarded in their industry and virtually unknown to anyone else.”

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Perhaps, but the new approach also conveniently insulates the publication against criticism and complaints about who made the list — ex-Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa, really? — and who didn’t.

The “didn’t” list includes the heads of powerful real estate families, such as Bill Rudin (whose father helped save the city from bankruptcy) and Douglas Durst (who secretly blocked Barry Diller’s island project until Andrew Cuomo agreed to finish Hudson River Park). Powerhouse commercial real estate brokers Mary Ann Tighe and Darcy Stacom were omitted as well. Neither cutting eight-figure deals that shape the city’s retail landscape nor throwing office supplies impressed the magazine, it seems.

The publicly traded REITs that own some of the city’s most iconic buildings are unrepresented. There’s no sign of Tony Malkin of Empire State Realty Trust, whose portfolio includes the Empire State Building; Marc Holliday of SL Green, the city’s largest commercial landlord; and the two Steves (Roth, of Vornado Realty Trust, and Ross, of the Related Companies).

Apparently, building the largest private development in the country doesn’t count for much. What does? We’ll let New York explain, but the magazine included Liz Yeampierre, who helped stop an Industry City rezoning that promised to generate lots of jobs and tax revenue. Yeampierre once opposed a chocolate maker in Sunset Park. If retail were a crime, she would be a strong candidate for police commissioner.

New York’s alphabetized list of “49 people who actually run the city” is below. Caveat emptor.

Téa Abashidze | Margaret Anadu | Jon Baker | Eddie Bautista | Serena Boardman | Carlee Briglia | Eduardo Castell | Yiatin Chu | Joanne Crevoiserat | Jonathan Davis | Piergiorgio Del Moro | Melissa DeRosa | Graham Duncan | Lee Fixel | Mara Gay | Ligia Guallpa | Alia Hanna Habib | Rujeko Hockley | Jackson Howard | A.C. Hudgins | Mistress Iris | Randall Jackson | GeGa Japaridze | Nathalie Gerschel Kaplan | Gabriella Khalil | Zaid Kurdieh | Mike Lavoie | Kihyun Lee | Gregg Lemkau| Alex Levy | Ingrid Lewis-Martin | Michelle Morse | Nelly Moudime | Carlos Nazario | Jay Newman | Tim O’Brien | Ellie Rines | Carolyn Ryan | Julie Samuels| Stanley Schlein | Amanda Silverman | Steve Simon | Aixa Torres | Bob Wankel | Peter Ward | Keith Wright | Zhang Xin | Elizabeth Yeampierre | Marlene Zwirner

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