The Power 100: The Most Powerful People in New York Real Estate

  • It was a year power rushed away. Since our last list, in May 2008, New York devolved from a city of infinite victory and possibility to one of survival and recrimination. The new list turns on that.

    Toward the top are money men (emphasis on men—only 12 women on the list), and New York’s firmly established surnames, those likeliest to withstand the recession: the Macks, Milsteins, Feils, Fishers, Malkins, Roses and Walentases all debut. And others from 2008 advance Frogger-like: Rob Speyer shot up 64 spots, Richard LeFrak up 46, Bill Rudin 21.

    Astride the pinnacle, however, stands someone whose surname goes back not even two generations in the U.S. President Obama’s administration finds itself at the true helm of the American economy and, to a large extent, then, at that of the real estate markets.

    It is no longer the invisible hand in charge, but one quite visible and caked in red, white and help!

    Other government leaders make the list—Mayor Bloomberg stays in the top five and Governor Paterson goes top 10—but it’s the finance men who, well, power the Power 100. At least one-tenth of the names are those whose main job could be considered lending capital or arranging hefty loans, including Joe Ficalora and Sam Giarrusso, regional bank heavies who probably, in any other year, would’ve been surprised to find themselves on the list.

    Two more notes: There are 122 names total in the 100 spots (62 names are new, 39 from last year were scuppered). Like the industry’s topmost, the list remains paler than a Gold Coast co-op board and more phallocentric than a commercial real estate C-suite: The list is over 95 percent white males. There’s nothing we can do about that.

    (Slideshow of the Top 20 to your upper right. And click here for results of our online polls asking you who should make the list.)

     

    1. Barack Obama
    President of the United States
    The chief executive of chief executives has come to dominate an era in real estate when government largesse means the difference between deals and no deals. TARP, TALF, PPIP, OMFG!—the feds’ breathlessly watched efforts to loosen credit markets and therefore get capital moving here and around the globe places this Chicagoan securely (heh) atop our list as the most powerful person in New York real estate.

    2. Stephen Ross (3)
    Chairman and CEO of the Related Companies
    Owner of the Time Warner Center and now the designated developer of the 26-acre West Side rail yards, Mr. Ross is the city’s unparalleled king of private development. Chairman of the Real Estate Board of New York and a builder who timed his developments quite well with the market, Mr. Ross is the one whom landlords looking to sell are quick to call up, should he still have an appetite to buy.

    3. Mort Zuckerman (14) and Ed Linde
    Chairman and CEO of Boston Properties
    The busiest commercial real estate buyer in the U.S. right now, Messrs. Zuckerman and Linde’s Boston Properties also claims a sizable chunk of office Manhattan. This includes, of course, the GM Building, bought with minority partners in a record $2.9 billion deal closed just before the recession. Those were the days! 

    4. Michael Bloomberg (2)
    Mayor of New York City
    While New York’s real estate sector depends on the broader economy far more than anything else, Mr. Bloomberg is perhaps the best-positioned person in government to nudge it one way or another. Using his tools of taxes, incentives and disbursement of infrastructure investments, he has broad powers to shape the future of individual developments and citywide trends.

    5. Jerry (1) and Rob Speyer (69)
    Co-CEOs of Tishman Speyer
    They’ve had a rough go of it over the record-smashing Stuyvesant Town–Cooper Village acquisition, but “Speyer” arguably remains the marquee surname in New York commercial real estate, with 15 million top-shelf square feet in midtown alone, including Rockefeller Center and the land lease on the Chrysler Building.

    6. Douglas Durst (9)
    Co-President of the Durst Organization
    Maybe it’s all the good karma generated by that organic farm upstate, but Mr. Durst has managed to ride the downturn triumphant, with his gorgeous One Bryant Park nearly all tenanted up. He’s also a would-be player in the redevelopment of the 57th Street Pier, and with a $300 million fund on the so-called sidelines, he’s waiting to pounce on primo distressed properties.

    7. Marc Holliday (4) and Andrew Mathias
    CEO and President of SL Green
    It’s hard to put this more plainly: Messrs. Holliday and Mathias lead the city’s largest commercial real estate portfolio, one that comprises a stunning 23,211,200 square feet: 388-390 Greenwich, 141 Fifth, 100 Park, 330 Madison, 711 Third. These and more are theirs—and no matter the REIT’s share price, their real estate remains, well, real.

    8. Amanda Burden (5)

    Chairwoman of the City Planning Commission, Director of the Department of City Planning
    New condo towers used to sprout up wherever Ms. Burden would point: Williamsburg! Downtown Brooklyn! West Chelsea! Those days are over, of course, but as the empress of zoning and public approvals of large-scale development in this city, she still holds a very strong hand, especially if any private developer ever wants to build again.

    9. David Paterson (13)
    Governor of New York
    There’s not a ton of money coming out of the state for anything real estate–related these days, but as governor, Mr. Paterson sits in a powerful seat. Large companies are likely to petition him for incentives to stay in New York, as some have already, and his assent is needed for any agreement to get the World Trade Center moving.

    10. Sheldon Silver (22)
    State Assembly Speaker
    The veteran of the “three men in a room” that control decisions in state government, Mr. Silver wields extraordinary influence over any piece of Albany legislation, be it the budget, housing policy or taxes. Thusly, he has foiled many a development plan of the Bloomberg administration and poured subsidies into Lower Manhattan’s recovery.

  • It was a year power rushed away. Since our last list, in May 2008, New York devolved from a city of infinite victory and possibility to one of survival and recrimination. The new list turns on that.

    Toward the top are money men (emphasis on men—only 12 women on the list), and New York’s firmly established surnames, those likeliest to withstand the recession: the Macks, Milsteins, Feils, Fishers, Malkins, Roses and Walentases all debut. And others from 2008 advance Frogger-like: Rob Speyer shot up 64 spots, Richard LeFrak up 46, Bill Rudin 21.

    Astride the pinnacle, however, stands someone whose surname goes back not even two generations in the U.S. President Obama’s administration finds itself at the true helm of the American economy and, to a large extent, then, at that of the real estate markets.

    It is no longer the invisible hand in charge, but one quite visible and caked in red, white and help!

    Other government leaders make the list—Mayor Bloomberg stays in the top five and Governor Paterson goes top 10—but it’s the finance men who, well, power the Power 100. At least one-tenth of the names are those whose main job could be considered lending capital or arranging hefty loans, including Joe Ficalora and Sam Giarrusso, regional bank heavies who probably, in any other year, would’ve been surprised to find themselves on the list.

    Two more notes: There are 122 names total in the 100 spots (62 names are new, 39 from last year were scuppered). Like the industry’s topmost, the list remains paler than a Gold Coast co-op board and more phallocentric than a commercial real estate C-suite: The list is over 95 percent white males. There’s nothing we can do about that.

    (Click here for results of our online polls asking you who should make the list.)

    Flickr via lemoncat1

  • President of the United States
    The chief executive of chief executives has come to dominate an era in real estate when government largesse means the difference between deals and no deals. TARP, TALF, PPIP, OMFG!—the feds’ breathlessly watched efforts to loosen credit markets and therefore get capital moving here and around the globe places this Chicagoan securely (heh) atop our list as the most powerful person in New York real estate.

  • Chairman and CEO of the Related Companies
    Owner of the Time Warner Center and now the designated developer of the 26-acre West Side rail yards, Mr. Ross is the city’s unparalleled king of private development. Chairman of the Real Estate Board of New York and a builder who timed his developments quite well with the market, Mr. Ross is the one whom landlords looking to sell are quick to call up, should he still have an appetite to buy.

  • Chairman and CEO of Boston Properties
    The busiest commercial real estate buyer in the U.S. right now, Messrs. Zuckerman (pictured) and Linde’s Boston Properties also claims a sizable chunk of office Manhattan. This includes, of course, the GM Building, bought with minority partners in a record $2.9 billion deal closed just before the recession. Those were the days!

  • Mayor of New York City
    While New York’s real estate sector depends on the broader economy far more than anything else, Mr. Bloomberg is perhaps the best-positioned person in government to nudge it one way or another. Using his tools of taxes, incentives and disbursement of infrastructure investments, he has broad powers to shape the future of individual developments and citywide trends.

  • Co-CEOs of Tishman Speyer
    They’ve had a rough go of it over the record-smashing Stuyvesant Town–Cooper Village acquisition, but “Speyer” arguably remains the marquee surname in New York commercial real estate, with 15 million top-shelf square feet in midtown alone, including Rockefeller Center and the land lease on the Chrysler Building.

  • Co-President of the Durst Organization
    Maybe it’s all the good karma generated by that organic farm upstate, but Mr. Durst has managed to ride the downturn triumphant, with his gorgeous One Bryant Park nearly all tenanted up. He’s also a would-be player in the redevelopment of the 57th Street Pier, and with a $300 million fund on the so-called sidelines, he’s waiting to pounce on primo distressed properties.

  • CEO and President of SL Green
    It’s hard to put this more plainly: Messrs. Holliday (pictured) and Mathias lead the city’s largest commercial real estate portfolio, one that comprises a stunning 23,211,200 square feet: 388-390 Greenwich, 141 Fifth, 100 Park, 330 Madison, 711 Third. These and more are theirs—and no matter the REIT’s share price, their real estate remains, well, real.

  • Chairwoman of the City Planning Commission, Director of the Department of City Planning
    New condo towers used to sprout up wherever Ms. Burden would point: Williamsburg! Downtown Brooklyn! West Chelsea! Those days are over, of course, but as the empress of zoning and public approvals of large-scale development in this city, she still holds a very strong hand, especially if any private developer ever wants to build again.

  • Governor of New York
    There’s not a ton of money coming out of the state for anything real estate–related these days, but as governor, Mr. Paterson sits in a powerful seat. Large companies are likely to petition him for incentives to stay in New York, as some have already, and his assent is needed for any agreement to get the World Trade Center moving.

  • State Assembly Speaker
    The veteran of the “three men in a room” that control decisions in state government, Mr. Silver wields extraordinary influence over any piece of Albany legislation, be it the budget, housing policy or taxes. Thusly, he has foiled many a development plan of the Bloomberg administration and poured subsidies into Lower Manhattan’s recovery.

  • Chairman and CEO of Vornado Realty Trust
    Messrs. Roth (pictured) and Fascitelli (who was promoted to CEO just last month) control more than 100 million square feet of commercial property nationwide, with 22 million in New York. Vornado also owns about half of the land surrounding Madison Square Garden and, in its joint venture with Related, holds the keys to the far West Side’s future.

  • President of Rudin Management Company
    Another real estate scion, and, as chair of the Association for a Better New York, a player in local public policy (this year, he also got involved in federal policy, lobbying for TARP monies for commercial real estate). Meanwhile, he’s engaged in a fight—nearly won—to redevelop some of the West Village in partnership with St. Vincent’s Hospital.

  • Owner of Glenwood Management
    So he dropped off the Forbes billionaire list this year. The landlord of 23 of Manhattan’s most luxurious rental buildings is still powerful, all the more so in an environment that values real estate rather than real estate on paper. A 2008 Daily News article estimated that Glenwood’s rent rolls alone likely exceed $25 million monthly.

  • Senior Managing Director for Real Estate at the Blackstone Group
    He engineered Blackstone’s purchase of Equity Office Portfolio in 2007, which, at $39 billion, was the largest such ever. Before the ink could dry, he’d begun flipping—including selling seven midtown towers to Harry Macklowe for over $7 billion. Now, Mr. Gray is back, with an $11 billion opportunity fund for distressed properties.

  • Founder of Craigslist
    As the old residential real estate order withers away (Coldwell Banker Hunt Kennedy just last month went the way of Alice Mason’s brokerage), the word “Craigslist” may one day be a lot more important than the word “Corcoran”—as long as lurid national scandals don’t drag down the classified site’s reputation.

  • President and CEO of the Trump Organization
    Just because this hugely haired, hugely marketed man gets involved in reality TV and the odd beauty pageant doesn’t mean he’s not also involved in genuine, real-life real estate. Trump SoHo alone, whose construction has been on-then-off-then-on, still has the power to redefine its entire neighborhood.

  • Principal at the Carlyle Group
    He’s the Carlyle Group’s Whartonite in New York, charged with U.S. acquisitions. Thus far, he’s acquired, financed, managed and disposed of more than $8 billion worth, and supposedly he’s one of the keepers of the mythical money on the sidelines.

  • Chairman, President and CEO of the LeFrak Organization
    Durability is power. The billionaire’s family has been developing in New York since 1901, and now their portfolio includes 5,000 apartments in Queens’ LeFrak City (a former swampland) and 14 million square feet in Newport, N.J.

    Flickr via lemoncat1

  • U.S. Senator
    As New York’s senior senator and the third-ranking Democrat in the chamber, Mr. Schumer must be paid a visit by anyone in real estate needing something from Washington. He exerts influence over finance issues, and has attached his name to hundreds of millions in earmarks for infrastructure like the Second Avenue Subway.

  • Managing Principal of Westbrook Partners
    He’s the head of the private-equity real estate fund that during the most recent boom snapped up the newly renamed Burberry Building, the Paramount Hotel and 235 West 75th Street, among others. And, again: one of the guys on the sidelines.

  • CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group
    New York’s most popular restaurateur continues to extend his Midas touch to the new Citi Field and soon to the Gramercy Park Hotel. (And to Central Park’s Delacorte Theater for the summer!) Is it any wonder why his name keeps coming up every time a prominent retail space becomes vacant?

  • CEO of CB Richard Ellis’ New York Tri-state Region
    In 2008, Ms. Tighe completed 5.6 million square feet in commercial real estate transactions, making her the top-producing leasing broker at CB Richard Ellis, the city’s biggest brokerage. Among her recent coups: moving Ogilvy & Mather to 636 11th Avenue; and signing Mediaedge at 825 Eighth Avenue.

  • CEO of Forest City Ratner
    He controls prime real estate in downtown Brooklyn and has two architecturally distinct new Manhattan towers, one unfinished. But his real test will be whether he can cobble together the money and political support to launch the project that has defined Forest City for the past half-decade: Atlantic Yards.

  • Chairman, Global CEO and North American CEO of AREA Property Partners
    The Time Warner Center–headquartered private-equity firm has dipped over $9 billion in hundreds of deals worldwide … and counting: Mr. Neibart (pictured) told us in March that AREA had developed a new opportunity fund to target distressed assets. More money on the sidelines!

  • President of BLDG Management
    Mr. Goldman took over his late uncle’s considerable real estate empire and has maintained a low-key, behind-the-scenes persona that belies his power (he’s probably the city’s biggest private landlord). He’s also a major investor in the World Trade Center towers and has plans to take over the project when Larry Silverstein steps down.

    Flickr via lemoncat1

  • President and CEO of CB Richard Ellis’ New York Tri-state Region
    Mr. Rudin is the sports-loving supreme leader of the New York area’s dominant commercial real estate brokerage. It has more than 1,000 employees and the bragging rights to having worked on more of the top 50 commercial deals in each of the past seven years than any other firm.

  • Founder and President of Rubenstein Associates
    If a powerful New Yorker does something important in New York, especially in real estate, Mr. Rubenstein is almost certainly backstage pulling strings. He’s horrifyingly ubiquitous, with clients like Bloomberg, Speyer and Rudin (plus this newspaper).

  • President of the Real Estate Board of New York
    As head of real estate’s heftiest lobbying group for over two decades, Mr. Spinola remains the hefty link between the industry and government. Thus, the recession has only sharpened REBNY’s prominence, as government’s role has ballooned (see this list’s No. 1).

  • President of Silverstein Properties
    The big question these days is just how many towers Mr. Silverstein will build at the World Trade Center. Originally planning five, he’s now down to one or two in the near term. With banks unwilling to finance spec towers and public monies uncertain, Mr. Silverstein’s financing maneuvers are one of the most watched games in town.

  • President and CEO of Cushman & Wakefield
    Mr. Mosler oversees 15,000 real estate professionals at the nearly century-old Cushman & Wakefield, the largest privately held commercial real estate services company and one with a formidable Manhattan presence.

  • Co-Chairmen of Zeckendorf Realty and of Terra Holdings
    Now that the tongue-wagging over their prim 15 Central Park West condo is over, the Zeckendorfs may not be quite as ubiquitous. But the developers with the marquee surname still co-own Halstead and Brown Harris Stevens, Manhattan’s third- and fourth-biggest brokerages by listing volume.

  • President of Extell Development
    The former diamond trader controls 10 million square feet, and unlike his colleagues, he’s still building! He’s begun foundation work for the 34-story Gem Tower, at 50 West 47th, which, with a nice circularity, is intended to house his old colleagues in the diamond industry.

  • Chairman and President of Prudential Douglas Elliman
    The frightening reality is that Corcoran, Elliman’s archrival, seems to be in trouble, which leaves Mr. Lorber and Ms. Herman with the biggest, strongest game in town. Their monolith has something like 60 offices in the New York area, with 3,500 people who do 14,000 transactions yearly.

  • President of Jones Lang LaSalle New York
    Mr. Riguardi, top dog at rising New York power brokerage Jones Lang LaSalle, also advises a who’s who of big players in this demon-ridden real estate market, including Bank of America, CBS, Deutsche Bank, HSBC and JPMorgan Chase.

  • Global Brokerage Chairman of CB Richard Ellis
    Mr. Siegel is the chauffeur-driven godfather of New York real estate who knows everybody and everything. Among his manifold holdings: thousands of apartments in the Bronx, some restaurants, a stake in a minor league baseball team and a spot running the city’s largest brokerage.

  • Owners of Milstein Properties
    Fraternal heirs to a quiet real estate kingdom co-founded by their father, Paul (one that, in keeping with the whole dynastic thing, has at times been torn asunder by succession issues), they own lots of stuff, including the Claridge House and Highgate on the Upper East Side.

  • CEO of the Feil Organization
    Scion of a family business dating back 50 years, Mr. Feil is said to control over 4 million square feet of Manhattan office space, much of it Class B, not to mention tons of residential. Seven Penn Plaza is his, as are the Fred French Building and Herald Center.

    Flickr via lemoncat1

  • Speaker of the City Council
    The final stop for most everyone in real estate seeking approval for a major development is the City Council, a fact lost on no developers, given their extensive courtship of the lawmakers. Beyond land use, Ms. Quinn and her members will determine—along with the mayor—just which taxes to raise, and will develop and approve the city’s annual budget.

  • Chairman, CEO and President of Newmark Knight Frank
    These three men have carefully cultivated a bumper crop of brokers, among them Mark Weiss and David Falk, who can successfully face off against CB Richard Ellis and Cushman & Wakefield in the high-end tenant rep field and help lead the firm when the three aforementioned gents retire.

  • Chairman, President and CEO of New York Community Bancorp
    Now that the Wall Street shops that churned out huge loans like so much spare change are gone, the active lenders are regional banks, like the one headed by Mr. Ficalora, who has become an increasingly important financier of New York real estate transactions.

  • Chairman and CEO of Studley
    In a down market, power accrues to tenants, and to their brokers. Mr. Steir, the largest stakeholder in one of New York’s most prominent tenant brokerages (and fan of the Alto power lunch), is in a good place at an awful time, as a zealous rep for clients that include Tiffany, Time Warner and Jones Day.

  • President of the New York City/Long Island Division of M&T Bank
    Mr. Giarrusso has become one of the go-to guys for commercial real estate financing, particularly for multi-family properties, considered the safest of the bunch. He’s a big fish in the fishbowl-size sea that is the commercial financing landscape.

    Flickr via lemoncat1

  • Deputy Mayor for Economic Development; President of the Economic Development Corporation
    Even in strained times, the Bloomberg administration is putting hundreds of millions of dollars into economic development, dispersed between both big-ticket projects and smaller initiatives. For now, Messrs. Lieber and Pinsky are spending much time on Willets Point and Coney Island, though they’re fielding many calls from developers craving aid in tough times.

    Flickr via lemoncat1

  • President and CEO of the Paramount Group
    Owned by the German Otto family, Paramount is one of the city’s largest private office landlords, with a portfolio that includes 1301 Avenue of the Americas and 60 Wall, and one that amounts to more than 12 million feet in New York, San Francisco and the D.C. area.

  • Partners in Fisher Brothers
    The brothers’ considerable Class A midtown portfolio includes 1345 Avenue of the Americas and 299 Park. They also had the financial capital heft to team with Sheldon Solow in building up 9 acres just south of the U.N.—before that partnership crumbled.

  • Senior Vice President of Sotheby’s International Realty
    Compared to the other brokers at the top, Ms. Boardman is miraculously chic, preposterously young, gallingly shy of the spotlight and, more importantly, continually successful. She’s handling brother-in-law Aby Rosen’s $75 million East 71st Street mansion and a duplex at 740 Park—plus countless quiet mega-listings.

  • Chairman of the New York Office of Greenberg Traurig
    Everyone is suffering—the developers, the bankers, the brokers, the politicians—but not the lawyers. And Mr. Ivanhoe is one of the biggest, with clients like Larry Silverstein, Steve Ross’ Related Companies, the Plaza’s El-Ad Group and SL Green.

  • Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
    The counterparty to Larry Silverstein, Mr. Ward is charged with the unenviable tasks of building out the fantastically complex Trade Center site and renegotiating the complicated real estate deal. His transportation-focused agency is the developer of one giant tower—the Freedom—and perhaps the financier of one or two more.

  • CEO of Brookfield Properties
    Chief executive since 2002, Mr. Clark finds himself at the helm of a firm at the financial crisis’ epicenter. Brookfield’s portfolio encompasses 20.6 million feet in New York, much of it at the World Financial Center, whose future, thanks to Merrill’s Bank of America consolidation and the wanderlust of tenant Deloitte, remains in doubt.

  • Chairman and President of W&M Properties
    The family that pioneered real estate investment syndication in 1933 remains firmly entrenched at the Empire State Building, across the city, and beyond. Again, an old-school surname likely to weather the recession well.

  • CEO and President of the Corcoran Group
    Parent company Realogy has been suffering so badly that Corcoran’s demise was rumored in December. But Ms. Liebman, whose firm has star brokers like Carrie Chiang and Leighton Candler, is fiercely competitive: “I say Corcoran Group is probably the strongest in New York,” she has said, “and we’ll probably be the last one standing.”

  • Founder and President of Wharton Acquisitions Corp.
    Mr. Sutton has collected more than 100 city properties, by himself or with partners like SL Green, and he shows a particular penchant for repositioning them through retail. A few cases in point: 609 Fifth with American Girl; 40 West 34th with American Eagle; and 720 Fifth with Abercrombie and Fitch.

    Flickr via lemoncat1

  • Developer
    There’s a construction freeze these days, but when business picks up, Mr. Solow will build with a fury. With 9 West 57th Street—among the city’s finest office towers—already his, he will likely add another jewel to his crown: the seven-tower, $4 billion mixed-use development on 9.2 acres just south of the U.N.

  • Chairman of the Real Estate Department at Fried Frank; Member of the Real Estate Department
    As partners in the real estate branch of a top global law firm, Mechanic (pictured) and Lefkowitz, Esqrs., carry client lists that read like a who’s who of real estate: Ratner, Zuckerman, Speyer, etc. Boom or bust, when big money is on the table, these two get the call often.

  • Chairman of the Landmarks Preservation Commission
    It’s a largely thankless role, but Mr. Tierney has risen to it since 2003, when the development boom really took off and the Internet started making it easier to bitch about the public’s role in preservation. The commission’s designations continue to impact developers and their opponents alike.

  • Co-Presidents of Rose Associates
    As heads of the family property concern, which includes ownership and management of thousands of city apartments, the Rose cousins are among New York’s quieter moguls. But like other well-capitalized surnames, theirs should weather the recession gently.

    Flickr via lemoncat1

  • President of Columbia University
    The City Council’s December 2007 approval for rezoning much of West Harlem as mixed-use paved the way for Columbia’s 17-acre expansion there, a cornerstone of Mr. Bollinger’s tenure at the university. For better or worse, the expansion will not only change the area’s physical makeup, but investors’ perceptions of it as well.

  • Chairman and CEO, and President of Eastern Consolidated
    When they’re not raising pet llamas, these married power brokers run an investment-sales machine specializing in quiet, off-market deals for landlords who value things like discretion and profit—a solid job to be in given the credit crunch.

  • Vice Chairman of CB Richard Ellis
    She, along with business partner Bill Shanahan, is the go-to for New York’s most important building sales. Most awesomely in 2008, she sold both the GM Building and other remnants of the Macklowe kingdom. Right now, she’s representing AIG in the sale of two towers downtown.

  • U.S. Representative
    As chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, Mr. Rangel holds tremendous sway over all things taxes in Congress. Case in point: tax-free bonds. Mr. Rangel has been lobbied heavily by everyone from landlords to the Yankees to local officials in various attempts to extend the availability of these low-cost bonds.

  • President of New York University
    While perhaps not from the same cut as the Lefraks, Dursts or Speyers, Mr. Sexton controls one of the city’s larger real estate holdings, and one that, at least as of last year, plans to grow substantially. Its expansion would add 6 million square feet over the next 25 years, adding to its holdings by about 50 percent.

  • Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development
    For selfish reasons, local officials and executives have high expectations for Mr. Donovan. Urban policy enthusiasts have long held that federal initiatives overlook the needs of cities, particularly housing. Given the department’s big budget, many locally hope the former city housing commissioner will give a boost to the “U” in HUD.

  • President of the Rent Stabilization Association
    The leader of the city’s largest landlord group, apartment building owners look to Mr. Strasburg to block efforts in Albany to increase rent regulations, particularly vacancy decontrol. He long was allied with State Senate Republicans, but now his success lies with his ability to fracture a fragile Democratic majority.

    Flickr via lemoncat1

  • Counsel at Kramer Levin
    As one of the top land-use lawyers in the city, Mr. Lindenbaum has served a wide array of public and private organizations, which have included the Catholic Church, MoMA and Silverstein Properties. Unlike everyone’s wallets, the city’s zoning codes don’t get thinner in a recession, so Mr. Lindenbaum should remain plenty busy.

  • Chairman and CEO of Starwood Capital
    Just off Bryant Park, the veteran hospitality mogul–turned–private-equity investor plans New York’s first five-star, environmentally friendly hotel. It’s an ambitious move from the man who brought you the high-end W chain, given the hotel market’s slump.

  • President of Murray Hill Properties
    Mr. Sturner has had a strong history of buying low, selling high. He seems to shy from the trophy properties, preferring commercial towers outside the midtown hot spots. Recently he’s had an eye for SL Green properties, buying 1250 Broadway for $310 million, and reportedly making an unsolicited $540 million bid for 485 Lexington.

    Flickr via lemoncat1

  • Executive Chairman of Africa Israel USA
    Mr. Marin was probably irked when he lost his powerful Bear Stearns job after The Times exposed his innocuous personal blog two years ago. But the timing wasn’t so bad. Now he’s the new boss at Africa Israel’s American wing, which means he has a lot of Bear-size messes (20 Pine! The old Times building! The Apthorp!) to clean up.

  • Board President of 834 Fifth Avenue
    The football maven and pharmaceutical heir is the gatekeeper to New York’s most-frothed-over co-op. What kind of post-bust buyers he lets into his building will set a big tone—even if Mr. Johnson happens to spend most of his New York time in a Trump International condo.

  • President and CEO of the Moinian Group
    Mr. Moinian’s firm owns the Atelier condo and a fleet of Manhattan office towers. The completion of his W New York Downtown, a 58-story condo-hotel just south of the World Trade Center, will likely mark the end of the downtown building boom.

  • Co-Chairman of Terra Holdings; President of Swig Equities
    The recession hasn’t been easy on Mr. Swig. Getting into the condo conversion game late, he’s had more than his fair share of foreclosure actions and tenant lawsuits. Still, he has substantial holdings, including 1.5 million feet of residential, and the industry is watching his portfolio closely, particularly downtown.

  • Senior Managing Director of Eastdil Secured
    Mr. Harmon seems to have a knack for being in on all the important deals. He’s been an adviser to Deutsche Bank as it’s tried to hawk off the detritus of the Macklowe empire, including the sale of the 1540 Broadway office condos for $355 million, the largest deal of 2009 so far.

    Flickr via lemoncat1

  • Founder and Vice President of Two Trees Management
    The king and prince of Brooklyn’s Dumbo are doing all right in these non-right times, pressing ahead with a 17-story tower on Dock Street, not to mention a $600 million Hell’s Kitchen development, their biggest single project ever.

    Flickr via lemoncat1

  • President of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York
    Developers have long carped about the extraordinary costs of construction in New York, which have been found to be twice that of many other cities. New to the top union job, Mr. La Barbera has taken the lead on trying to lower labor costs. Should it prove effective, developers say planned towers will start rising once again.

  • Senior Vice President and Managing Director at Brown Harris Stevens
    The scary thing about the city’s sovereign townhouse broker is that she not only puts gargantuan prices on her mansions, but according to Brown Harris, she gets an average of 97 percent of the tags.

  • Chairman and CEO of Massey Knakal
    It’s pretty simple: volume. A drought in large-scale property deals has watered the business of Massey Knakal, the biggest of the city’s smaller investment-sales firms. In October, Mr. Knakal himself sealed his 1,000th building deal in New York.

    Flickr via lemoncat1

  • Chairman of the Carlton Group
    As head of a private real estate investment bank, Mr. Michaels has long been one of the guys you go to when you need money. Now, he’s angling to fill the void left by the former Wall Street shops like Lehman by raising hundred-million-dollar investment funds (and he's planning to do commercial auctions—the real, live kind, not virtual).

  • Consulting Partner of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
    The building bust has not treated architects well. But Mr. Childs still has a project that’s just getting started: 1 World Trade Center (the Freedom Tower). As the tallest building in the city, it will forever reshape Lower Manhattan’s skyline.

  • President and CEO of Meridian Capital Group
    Commercial mortgage brokers become even bigger heavyweights during downturns, when developers can no longer call up their buddies at banks for easy money. Mr. Herzka sits atop one of the most important such brokerages in New York.

    Flickr via lemoncat1

  • Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York
    The recently arrived prelate, by dint of his office, controls a vast real estate concern stretching over Staten Island, Manhattan and the Bronx. Mr. Dolan’s predecessor sold, according to The Times, over $100 million in church property during the boom.

  • Hoteliers
    The Mercer, Maritime, Chambers, Jane, Bowery, Pod, Greenwich, Gansevoort, Wellington, Elysee—it’s hard to find any stylish hotel property in the city that doesn’t bear the fingerprints of these stealthy players. Want to convert your dowdy SRO building into a trendy boutique? Call these guys.

  • Chairman and CEO of Tishman Construction
    After taking over the reins of the family business, Mr. Tishman is leading it through several big-time gigs, including 1 World Trade. That’s fitting, considering Dan’s pop, John, spearheaded the building of the original Trade Center towers 30-plus years ago.

  • Rector of Trinity Church
    Trinity Church’s ownership of most of Hudson Square predates America’s founding. The downtown church has accumulated 6 million square feet in 18 buildings, with a heavy concentration now of media companies under lease.

  • Executive Vice President and Director of Stribling Private Brokerage
    The perennially bow-tied Mr. Henckels may not do the most massive deals, but now that Edward Lee Cave’s firm has been folded into Brown Harris Stevens and doyenne Alice Mason has closed up shop, he’s carrying the torch for old-school, genteel, Upper East Side brokering. (And he’s listing Brooke Astor’s duplex, too.)

  • President of Brown Harris Stevens
    The Kentucky-born, Madrid-schooled executive oversees 350 agents, a tiny number compared to Corcoran and Elliman. But his brokers are posh, proper people who do $3.4 billion in yearly sales, often dealing in the most pristine co-ops and limestone mansions.

  • Chairman and CEO of Thor Equities
    For over two years now, Mr. Sitt has been blocking the Bloomberg administration’s road to Coney Island, where it wants to redevelop the famed district with a new rezoning, amusement park and hotels. The city now wants Mr. Sitt out, and is in a standoff over the price for his land. Without a sale, the city’s plans are largely stymied.

  • CEO and President of Miller Samuel
    It’s not clear how a real estate appraiser became one of the most visible real estate icons this side of Dolly Lenz, but when the media-savvy, Web-connected Mr. Miller speaks, New York listens. His market reports are like a quarterly Super Bowl.

  • Commissioner of the Department of Buildings
    Mr. LiMandri’s 1,200-person department is one of the city’s larger regulatory forces, with the sole purpose of watching over the construction industries. After two crane collapses, his efforts to strengthen safety through regulation are being closely watched.

  • Commissioner of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development
    Charged with something of a thankless task, Mr. Cestero earlier this year took the reins of the city’s housing agency at a time when funding is only decreasing. He also inherited a housing production plan that assumed a more robust economy.

    Flickr via lemoncat1

  • Vice Chairman of Prudential Douglas Elliman
    Even if she was replaced at her three biggest projects (including Manhattan House), and even if The Real Deal recently reported that powerhouse Carrie Chiang’s listings add up to a higher tally ($472.8 million!), Ms. Lenz is still widely feared, imitated and obeyed.

  • Chairman and CEO of Macklowe Properties
    Mr. Macklowe supplanted his father, Harry, as chairman of the company after the elder Macklowe heavily leveraged it right before the credit crisis. The GM Building may be gone, but the heir still has a considerable empire.

  • Partner and Co-Founder of RFR Holding
    Not only does the art collector own the Seagram Building and Lever House, but his 22 East 71st Street mansion is the most expensive piece of residential real estate on the market. If he can sell it anywhere near its $75 million asking, he’ll single-handedly redefine the townhouse market.

  • Principal of Bovis Lend Lease New York
    From infrastructure work to office towers, Bovis’ signs hang on construction sites citywide. Mr. Abadie also oversees the less-than-pleasant task of taking down the former Deutsche tower.

  • President of Grubb & Ellis New York
    The exuberantly positive brokerage chief told us in May that the city’s in the midst of its biggest transfer of property in 20 years. Brokerages like Grubb & Ellis—the firm’s clients include the F.D.I.C. and Vornado—are in a position to capitalize.

  • Chairman of the Rent Guidelines Board
    Mr. Markus has occupied the chairmanship on and off since 1979, annually facing the onerous task of setting rent increases for the city’s more than one million rent-stabilized apartments. He recently called for sweeping changes to stabilization, via Albany, wading into one of the industry’s hottest topics.

  • Publisher of Curbed Network
    Mr. Steele’s Twitter feed recently said he’d gotten an email from “a production company interested in developing the TV version” of Curbed. Even if his site doesn’t become a show, Mr. Steele’s New York–centered Curbed, Eater and Racked sites are daily staples for the young and city-obsessed.

  • Publisher of The Real Deal
    The Real Deal may not have Curbed’s peppy flair, but it’s still a must-read for industry insiders—except for those, as Mr. Korangy wrote recently, who don’t like reading negative news and “would prefer if we wrote about how many Girl Scout cookies brokers are buying.”

  • Hotelier
    The first guy to really grasp the commercial potential of the forthcoming High Line Park has effectively shifted the epicenter of the bustling meatpacking district to the west with his towering new hotel on stilts, the Standard New York.

  • Managing Partner of the Clarett Group
    The Clarett Group has developed several condo towers in its nine years, and Ms. Hackett is a woman of considerable power in a profession swollen with alpha males. She has a couple of Brooklyn projects in the pipeline, including 111 Lawrence Street, a 50-plus-story tower in downtown Brooklyn.

  • Parks Commissioner
    Beyond controlling the vast system of open spaces and recreation spots, the parks boss is also the de facto landlord for some of the city’s most illustrious eateries, including its highest-grossing restaurant, Tavern on the Green, and will soon decide which lucky operator gets his hands on that fabulous cash cow.

  • Principal at Linneman Associates and the Albert Sussman Professor of Real Estate, Finance and Business and Public Policy at Wharton
    As a well-respected real estate mind—Mr. Linneman’s book Real Estate Finance & Investments is sacral among aspiring titans—and an unabashed critic of government intervention, Mr. Linnneman finds himself busy in this era of bailouts.

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