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NYC's CRE Industry Reflects On Health Crisis During Virtual REBNY Banquet

Gov. Andrew Cuomo gives remarks at the Real Estate Board of New York's virtual banquet June 10, 2021.

During the first Real Estate Board of New York banquet since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the industry, as well as the governor, attorney general and Senate majority leader, reflected on the impact of the health crisis on real estate and New York City. 

The powerful trade organization honored essential workers throughout the industry. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday night during a virtual version of the event that the organization was “extraordinary” amid the crisis and that construction on new infrastructure, including on Penn Station, would lead the city in the recovery. 

“Throughout a year of great challenge and uncertainty, our industry has repeatedly risen to the occasion to help our tenants, residents, neighbors and our City,” REBNY Chairman Douglas Durst said, according to a release. “Now, because of our collective dedication and resourcefulness, we can see the city coming back to life. While there is much work to do, I know we are on the path to New York City’s greatest comeback.”

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer praised efforts to aid New Yorkers as the pandemic raged through the city by providing medical space and hosting community food drives. 

“Many members of REBNY pitched in to support their fellow New Yorkers by marshalling their immense resources … and helping the most vulnerable among us get through this dark chapter in New York’s history,” he said.

When the pandemic was at the peak of its first wave during April and May of 2020, some real estate owners, such as Goldfarb Properties, donated rooms for healthcare workers who were fearful of returning home to their families after treating Covid patients, Bisnow previously reported

REBNY honored essential workers in New York City real estate with the Public Service Award. Union leaders in construction, property management and engineering —  such as Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York President Gary LaBarbera, 32BJ SEIU President Kyle Bragg and International Union of Operating Engineers Local 94 President Kuba Brown — accepted the award on behalf of all workers. 

Construction workers had the highest Covid contraction rate of all professions nationally, according to a UCLA report. In New York, nonessential construction work was paused between March and May last year.

The other award winners honored by REBNY were Brown Harris Stevens CEO Bess Freedman, Cushman & Wakefield Senior Managing Director of Global Occupier Services Kevin McCann, ABS Partners Real Estate President and co-Managing Partner Gregg Schenker, Cushman & Wakefield Executive Managing Director  Robert Shapiro, Wells Fargo Multifamily Capital Group Head Alan Wiener and Donald Zucker Co. and Manhattan Skyline Management Corp. Vice Chairwoman Laurie Zucker.