Just days after the powerful real-estate lobby failed to derail the passage of the state’s new tenant-friendly rent laws, John Banks is stepping down as president of the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), the Real Deal reports. Banks, 58, told Politico he will become a stay-at-home dad beginning July 1. He’ll be succeeded at the helm of the influential trade group by its current executive vice president, Jim Whelan.
Banks presided over REBNY during successful battles over the renewal of the 421a tax law and a rezoning of Midtown East. The latter has led to a flurry of high-rise construction. Banks insists that his departure is not a result of the new rent laws his group so aggressively opposed. Some experts say the new rules erased billions of dollars of equity overnight from owners of apartment portfolios that had a preponderance of rent-regulated units. “We need to be more grassroots,” Banks says. “We need to be more like some of the other advocacy groups and show some of the elected officials that we are not just wealthy Manhattan owners.”
The departure of Banks comes during a politically shaky time for the real estate industry. During the bare-knuckled lobbying over the new rent regulations, a number of landlords and developers bypassed REBNY and hired their own lobbyists. Meanwhile, many left-leaning politicians have sworn off accepting real estate industry donations.
While Banks and his predecessor, Steve Spinola, who led REBNY for more than 20 years, were seen as genteel political statesmen who could lean on high-placed connections in Albany, including the governor, Whelan is known as an aggressive operative. "He's an attack dog," one source told Crain’s.
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