Press Release

Commercial Observer & REBNY Host Historic Public Service Event Convening Top Leaders To Layout NYC’s Recovery Plans


January 31, 2021

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NEW YORK – Commercial Observer, the premier media and information services company that informs and connects leaders in the commercial real estate industry, partnered with the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), New York’s leading real estate advocacy and trade organization, to host a historic “Celebration of Public Service” event on Thursday, January 28, 2021.

The event came together virtually in the midst of the pandemic to jumpstart 2021 with a discussion on the City’s recovery plans.  The program brought together New York’s most influential business leaders and City and State officials to make one message clear: collaboration and public service by adept leaders are putting New York City on the path to recovery and it will thrive again.  The event was supported by some of the largest firms in the real estate industry, including Presenting Sponsor, JPMorgan Chase.

“Our brand was built in New York City, we are headquartered in New York City and as we’ve grown to serve a national audience we haven’t forgotten our roots. We remain champions of and are deeply invested in the City’s long-term success.  We felt it was critical to kick off 2021 with concrete ideas and plans from the people creating positive change and to showcase the many reasons why New York, led by its commercial real estate industry, is a vital lifeline in the global economy and is poised to thrive in the near future.  There was no better partner than REBNY to help bring top leaders together and share these insights with the broader industry,” said Observer Media CEO, Michael Rose.

Iconic real estate leaders and public officials joined Commercial Observer’s editorial team to discuss the importance of keeping top talent in New York City by increasing diversity and equity across industries, using cutting-edge real estate designs to introduce dynamic live/work/play environments and attracting high-growth industries like life sciences and technology. In addition, the theme of public service highlighted the unique contributions of the real estate community--and its shared responsibility to go beyond business to positively impact our communities and ensure New York’s future.

During a special leadership presentation with Jay Neveloff (Kramer Levin), Mary Ann Tighe (CBRE), and Anthony Malkin (Empire State Realty Trust), Chase Garbarino, CEO & Co-Founder of HqO pointed out that recent movement to coastal cities in warmer climates is unlikely to deter the City’s growth or erase the centuries worth of art and culture that has made New York a world-class destination. “Culture takes decades, centuries to compound, and New York City’s can’t just be replicated, it’s not going to pop up just anywhere,” Garbarino added.

“There is a lot of smart, important progress underway in the City and we saw an opportunity to partner with REBNY and provide a platform for leaders to voice this to New York communities and constituents. We’re at a critical juncture in the City’s history and there are people pioneering the way forward by fortifying greater unity and shedding light on the areas that are going to drive long-lasting change, like sustainability, health, and wellness, and resiliency” stated Max Gross, Commercial Observer Editor-in-Chief.

The program also took a closer look at the key initiatives put in place by REBNY to help mitigate the continual public health concerns and business interruptions arising from the ongoing pandemic. From securing vital PPE materials to their recent announcement that vacant office spaces will be used to increase available testing and vaccine sites, REBNY has taken an invaluable role in making New York an example of effective COVID-19 responsiveness.

“The key to moving forward is collaboration,” stated REBNY President James Whelan. “We will continue working with government officials and other stakeholders to play our part in advancing a strong and equitable economic recovery that continues to position New York City as a global leader.”

A portion of the program proceeds will be donated to the virtual internship program launched by Project Destined in partnership with REBNY and CUNY. “We want to create the strongest possible future for this amazing city and to do that we need to ensure New York remains an attractive destination for global top talent, and that starts here at home.  Project Destined has designed powerful, interactive, and compelling educational programs led by top real estate companies that introduce the nation’s youth to professions in the industry. We’re thrilled to support this results-oriented program that is working to bring up a stronger, more diverse pipeline of talent,” said Michael Rose, Observer Media CEO.

The program opened with virtual red carpet interviews hosted by Commercial Observer editors Max Gross and Cathy Cunningham before welcoming Chad Tredway (JPMorgan Chase), James Whelan (REBNY), Douglas Durst (The Durst Organization), and Deputy Mayor Vicki Been (City of New York) for opening remarks. A special tribute was also given to the late New York City Mayor David Dinkins.

Notable program speakers included:

  • Vicki Been, Deputy Mayor, New York City

  • Charles Bendit, Co-Founder and Co-Chief Executive Officer, Taconic Investment Partners

  • Ben Brown, Head of US Office, Brookfield Properties

  • Alfred Cerullo III, President/CEO, Grand Central Partnership

  • Tommy Craig, Regional Officer & Partner, Hines

  • Douglas Durst, Chairman, The Durst Organization

  • David Falk, President, New York Tri-State Region, Newmark

  • Winston Fisher, Partner, Fisher Brothers

  • Chase Garbarino, Co-Founder & CEO, HqO

  • MaryAnne Gilmartin, Founder and CEO, Interim CEO, MAG Partners LP; Mack-Cali Realty Corporation

  • Ralph Herzka, Chairman and CEO, Meridian Capital Group

  • Leslie Himmel, Founder and Co-Managing Partner, Himmel + Meringoff Properties

  • Marc Holliday, Chief Executive Officer, SL Green Realty Corp.

  • Letitia James, Attorney General, State of New York

  • Bob Knakal, Chairman, NY Investment Sales, JLL

  • Thea Kruger, Senior Principal, Berdon LLP

  • Jessica Lappin, President, Alliance for Downtown New York

  • Haniel Lynn, CEO, Kastle Systems

  • Anthony E. Malkin, Chairman, President, CEO, Empire State Realty Trust

  • Jonathan Mechanic, Partner and Chairman of the Real Estate Department, Fried Frank

  • Nelson Mills, CEO, Columbia Property Trust

  • Joe Moinian, Founder & CEO, The Moinian Group

  • Laurent Morali, President, Kushner

  • Bruce Mosler, Chairman, Global Brokerage, Cushman & Wakefield

  • Jay A. Neveloff, Partner, Chair, Real Estate, Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP

  • Andrew Rigie, Executive Director, New York City Hospitality Alliance

  • Peter Riguardi, Chairman and President of the New York Region, JLL

  • Nadir Settles, Managing Director, New York Regional Head, Office, Americas, Nuveen

  • Larry Silverstein, Chairman, Silverstein Properties, Inc.

  • Mary Ann Tighe, Chief Executive Officer, New York Tri-State Region, CBRE

  • Chad Tredway, Managing Director - Head of Real Estate Banking, J.P. Morgan Chase

  • Carl Weisbrod, Senior Advisor, HR&A

  • James Whelan, President, REBNY

Event sponsors included:

  • JPMorgan Chase (Presenting Sponsor)

  • Alliance for Downtown New York

  • Berdon LLP

  • CBRE

  • Colliers International

  • Columbia Property Trust

  • Cushman & Wakefield

  • Fisher Brothers

  • Fried Frank

  • Grand Central Partnership

  • Hines

  • HqO

  • JLL

  • Kastle Systems

  • Kramer Levin

  • Meridian Capital Group

  • Newmark

  • SL Green Realty Corp


Commercial Observer is the leading commercial real estate media and information services company, delivering high-impact content, events and platforms designed to connect and inform industry participants of key trends and people defining the global real estate landscape. Commercial Observer reaches a national audience of the most active real estate owners/developers, corporate occupiers, brokers, investors, lenders, leasing professionals, tech firms, public officials, contractors, architects, attorneys, and accountants, as well other business owners and key decision-makers impacting the trajectory of the building industry. The company holds its reporting to the highest editorial standards with a strong commitment to fairness and accuracy.  Commercial Observer is a unit of Observer Media, a company which informs and connects leaders in industries undergoing transformation, to help them innovate, grow and make smarter decisions.


The Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) is the City’s leading real estate trade association. Founded in 1896, REBNY represents commercial, residential, and institutional property owners, builders, managers, investors, brokers, and salespeople; banks, financial service companies, utilities, attorneys, architects, and contractors; corporations, co-partnerships, and individuals professionally interested in New York City real estate. REBNY conducts research on various civic matters including tax policy, city planning and zoning, rental conditions, land use policy, building codes, and other city, state, and federal legislation. REBNY regularly publishes market data, policy reports, and broker surveys. In addition, REBNY provides for its members: informational, technical, and technological resources; networking and charitable service opportunities; qualifying and continuing education courses; professional education programs, seminars, and designations; career-changing awards; legal advice; and a wide range of additional member benefits. For more information, please visit