Three icons of New York City’s development scene appeared at a New York University panel to talk business, New York City, labor, and what keeps them up at night.
Stephen Ross, founder of Related Cos., Bill Rudin, CEO of Rudin Management, and Richard LeFrak, CEO of LeFrack, shared thoughts before a crowd of hundreds at New York University’s Capital Markets in Real Estate conference. The Real Deal reports on the conversation.
Rudin expressed optimism over New York’s economy. In particular, he cited the strong market for residential properties, spurred in part by the influx of young people into the marketplace.
Ross agreed that he “is still very encouraged by New York City,” despite some “malaise” in the economy. His main concern was construction unions; he claimed they have “been ripping [developers] off all these years.” He complained that certain of their wage demands drive up the cost of construction and threaten the affordable housing economy. His comments specifically referred to negotiations over 421a tax abatement projects.
All three weighed in on the current cost of land. LeFrak pointed out that projects such as Hudson Yards or Rudin’s building at the Brooklyn Navy Yard were beholden to “cheap” land. Rudin and Ross disagreed, using such words as “affordable” and “location” instead.
As for what keeps them up at night? Ross said national politics, LeFrak said threats of violence and terrorism, and Rudin claimed immunity. “I sleep pretty well,” he said.