What You Don’t Know About Steve Spinola
Now hear this. That news a few months back that the beloved president of REBNY is retiring was greatly exaggerated. Folks, it won’t be until the end of NEXT year, and even then, he’ll remain president emeritus, providing advice to a successor. We found him working away at his desk.
Top policy priorities for next 16 months: Help create a mayor's affordable housing plan that’ll work with, extend, or reform the 421 program and rent regs that expire next year. Also, deal with the level of taxation in the City of New York.
How bad taxes are: Apartment buildings are taxed beyond owners' ability to maintain them as rentals. Taxes on office buildings are forcing rents into the triple digits.
His best argument: Income-producing properties provide 38% of all local revenue for the City of New York.
A political priority: Elect a state legislature that’ll have a balanced, common-sense approach.
Photo: Poster on his wall commemorating REBNY's successful 1991 campaign against higher NYC property taxes.
What he’s proudest of: There's not another real estate association that so completely represents every aspect of the industry, for which he showers credit upon his executive committee and staff.
Qualities his successor should have: Has to understand that if the city does well, REBNY members do well, has to be a win-win, and must deal with substance, making the case for growth with facts and details about policy, not just depending on political sway.
Whether a successor needs to know real estate: At least economic development and how a deal happens.
Whether a successor needs to be from New York: Probably.
Steve started out with Mayor Ed Koch and has seen other mayors, too. His thoughts on NYC’s litany of leaders:
Ed Koch: Everyone felt he was like them; he sang out about NYC like when he went to the Brooklyn Bridge during the transit strike his first day on the job, showing people he’d walk with them.
John Lindsay: Extraordinary ability to reach out to every neighborhood, like when at 6’4” you saw him walking down 125th Street during the riots.
Abe Beame: Underrated as an individual; he began to pull NYC out of fiscal hard times, making some tough decisions.
David Dinkins: A gentleman, and he put in the tennis stadium that became the greatest economic sporting event in the city.
Rudy Giuliani: He proved New York City was manageable.
Mike Bloomberg: He proved Giuliani's success wasn't a fluke, and he dealt with the future like few others—like his 2030 Plan.
Bill de Blasio: He's brought a different sense of opportunity—to unite the city behind both a higher level of social services and the need for continued economic growth and development.
Vacay: Not sitting on a beach. Wants to see museums, ruins, something interesting. Loves Ireland from golf to “castle alerts,” rainbows, incredible variations of green. Loves visiting Silver Spring, Md., where daughter and grandchildren live.
Favorite author: Tom Clancy.
Movie: Harrison Ford—The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, you name it.
Music: Frank Sinatra, Johnny Mathis. “The Way You Look Tonight” is a great song.
TV: Cop dramas, not reality shows.
Properties he admires: The one REBNY’s in, i.e., the GE Building; people don't recognize how beautiful it is. And, of course, Rockefeller Center, the World Trade Center, and Brookfield Place, among so many others.
Will he continue to live on Long Island: For a time.
Where he'd move: Already has a place in Fort Myers, Fla., an easy flight on JetBlue.
Family: Married to Eileen 44 years, two grown daughters in DC and Hoboken, and two grandkids, 3 and almost 5.
Other cities he likes: Loves DC and its memorials, the lake in Chicago, and Boston and San Francisco for their walkability. Was in Memphis for the first time recently and loved it.