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December 11, 2008



We were on hand yesterday when, in light of the economic gloom, Moynihan Station Venture VP/AREW prez Jennifer McCool so aptly quoted Mame: “We need a little Christmas (or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa) right this very minute!” And what better way to lift spirits than with an AREW holiday luncheon at the Bryant Park Grill?


City Council speaker Christine Quinn (with Jennifer) keynoted the event, and talked about the diverse challenges New York City is facing right now, with Wall Street in a rut and real estate its second most important economic engine. Some initiatives the City is taking to weather the fiscal storm include: focusing on diversifying City economic engines beyond Wall Street and real estate; changing the corporate tax structure to encourage businesses to move here; staying aggressive in keeping development projects moving; and working with major industries to create more jobs. Even though the City expects a $1.3B deficit next fiscal year (and that’s before the state makes its cuts), she pointed it out that it could’ve been a lot worse—to the tune of $6B—had the City not aggressively pre-paid bills when it had a surplus and set up a $2.6B healthcare trust fund. Plus the additional 7% cuts that Mayor Mike demanded this week.


Okay, enough gloom—let’s focus on the holiday cheer. CUH2A’s Mary Williamson, Perkins + Will’s Debra Cole, attorney Barbara Pryor, and Liberty Title’s Stephanie Butler collect gifts for Women In Need as part of AREW’s charitable fund. This year, 250 people participated and over 300 gifts were collected for the charity, they told us. AREW also announced that it has received the single-largest gift for its Merle Gross-Ginsberg Scholarship, named after AREW’s founder and first president. It now has a $100k opening endowment for college scholarships, the first of which will be given to an NYU real estate student.


Denham Wolf’s Sarah Eisinger, Argo Corp.’s Karen Berman, Corporate Calm’s Bonnie Haber, and Sokol Media’s Lori Sokol. We’re certainly feeling the season of giving with AREW members: Karen tells us Argo cancelled its annual holiday party this year and instead is donating money to various charities on behalf of the Henry Moskowitz Foundation, named after the firm’s founder who died in September at 102.


Related’s Linda LaBella, Ana Bertuna, Kimberly Sherman Stamler and Michael Samuelian. Linda moonlights as a painter and is getting ready for a personal exhibition in July at Los Angeles’ Bert Green Fine Art gallery. She hasn’t strayed far from her real estate roots, however—she uses architectural plans for canvases.

Gotham Gets Merry in TriBeCa

The Gotham Organization was also in a celebratory mood last night, holding its holiday festivities at Tribeca Rooftop. Chairman Joel Picket and president David Picket tell us that that firm is currently building the third floor of its project at West 72nd and Broadway, which will include 200 rental units and 50k SF of retail space. Father and son are soon heading off to Florida with their whole family for the holidays.


Gotham Construction president John Giammarella and Creative Finishes founder Victor Strauss also look forward to spending the holidays with their families: John’s staying home this year, while Victor’s headed to Jamaica. We hope to see him in January with a nice tan.


Gotham’s Andrew Marshall, Ralph Boniello, Indira Lakhram and Kevin Sullivan. Don’t let Andrew’s dapper suit and tie fool you—he’s an avid motorcyclist. The Yamaha R6 owner loves to travel to Pennsylvania, Connecticut and upstate New York to ride.


Gotham’s Dana Solt, Thomas Agosta, Rich Posnanski, Rich’s wife Lynette Silvestri and Gotham’s Imer Sinanaj. On the side, Rich teaches a course on construction technology at Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning & Preservation.

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