Real Estate Weekly
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Real estate industry responds to Harlem tragedy

By Steven Spinola

REBNY chairman Rob Speyer was among city representatives at the scene.
REBNY chairman Rob Speyer was among city representatives at the scene.

As New Yorkers, we pride ourselves on many things. The diversity of our city, the safety of our neighborhoods, iconic cultural institutions, and efficient public transportation are just a few of the elements that make us proud to be New Yorkers.

We can also be proud of how New Yorkers accept the responsibility to help our neighbors in times of crisis.

In the aftermath of the explosion in East Harlem last week, I joined Mayor Bill de Blasio, REBNY chair Rob Speyer, the New York State Association for Affordable Housing, and city officials in announcing the steps being taken by the de Blasio Administration to assist the families displaced by the explosion.

We as an industry should be very proud of the response when REBNY asked our members to assist the Mayor in helping to provide some of the essential services that were lost in that terrible moment.

Members came forward and offered apartments for displaced families for the next three months and to work with the city to find long-term housing solutions for all those affected.

Following our visit to the emergency shelter, Mayor de Blasio said, “REBNY stepped forward immediately, generously, and energetically. They went above and beyond the call, and I want to thank them…including Harold Fetner and Neil Rubler. I’d like to thank the Stahl Organization, the Olnick Family, and the Muss Development Company. All of them stepped up ready to serve people in need, that’s something New Yorkers should feel appreciative of.”

Since the Mayor’s comments, the Durst Organization, Durst Fetner Residential, Goldmont Realty Corp, and Ogden CAP Properties have offered additional apartments.

It was deeply gratifying to hear the mayor publicly recognize REBNY members for caring about the victims and the challenges they are facing.

But in reality, our members did what they have always done and what they understand their responsibilities to be in this great city.

In addition to temporary housing, REBNY is proud to support the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City in helping these residents in any way we can.

Steve Spinola in Harlem last week
Steve Spinola in Harlem last week

The Mayor’s Fund developed a strategic relief plan with service providers that have been leading the immediate response effort. Services include a victims’ assistance fund, counselling services, and community outreach.

New Yorkers who wish to make a tax deductible contribution to the effort should call 311 or visit the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City website:

It is during moments like these that we are able to witness the bravery and selfless efforts of our first responders. I am immensely proud of the city’s relief efforts during these trying times, and all of those involved in them.

I would especially like to recognize and thank the members of the FDNY, NYPD, and other first responders who were not only on the scene moments after the explosion, but who also did an exemplary job clearing away the debris and searching for survivors. The Speaker of the City Council, Melissa Mark-Viverito has done an exemplary job serving her constituents throughout this crisis.

The city was shaken by last week’s events, and for good reason. As Mayor de Blasio reminded us, “If you see something, say something,” isn’t just limited to suspicious packages and it is our responsibility to look out for each other.

In times of crisis, New Yorkers always respond by assisting their neighbors in need, our industry is no exception.

In other REBNY News:

On April 1, The Members’ Luncheon will take place at the Grand Ballroom of The Hilton New York, located at 1335 Avenue of the Americas. Refreshments will be served from 11:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., and the Program will be from 12:20 p.m. to 2 p.m. To register contact Desiree Jones at

On April 4, Brooklyn Residential Seminar “Running Your Business From Apps: Essential Tools for Today’s Agent” will be held at St. Francis College in Brooklyn. The seminar is free for Residential Members. Registration is required and available through the REBNY events calendar at

On April 9, we are starting a seminar series: “Legal Line LIVE!” with REBNY Broker Counsel Neil Garfinkel. This seminar will take place quarterly. The seminars are open to Residential Principals and Managers. RSVP to

On June 10, the winners of the Retail Committee Retail Deal of the Year 2013 Awards will be announced at a cocktail party hosted by the Retail Committee on Tuesday. You are invited to review your New York City retail transactions completed in 2013 and submit any that you consider a likely candidate for the Retail Deal of the Year Award. There will be two awards in total, and the deadline date is at 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 10.

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