REBNY honors supers who faced down superstorm

Steven Spinola

President, Real Estate Board of New York

The Real Estate Board of New York recently honored leaders in building operations during the 10th annual Commercial Management Leadership Breakfast on May 30 at the Hilton New York. Individuals, both management level and service providers, were recognized for helping keep commercial buildings in New York City operating at a high-level of efficiency.

Our tenth breakfast also marked our most successful. Nearly 950 real estate professionals, the largest crowd to date, were in attendance to see the presentation of 10 awards and listen to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who served as the keynote speaker. Mayor Bloomberg highlighted many of the City’s major real estate projects and how they are positively impacting our economy as well as discussed the city’s lower crime rates, improved employment numbers and a booming tourism industry which has seen a 30-percent increase bringing 72 new hotels throughout the five boroughs.

Members of REBNY’s commercial management division are the individuals that help our city’s buildings run smoothly on a daily basis. From property managers to engineers and porters, all play a vital role in keeping commercial properties well maintained.

This year was especially difficult with the challenges our industry faced in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and just emphasizes their hard work and dedication. REBNY is proud to honor these individuals and commends them for their efforts.

The Commercial Management Leadership Breakfast’s most prestigious honor, the coveted Edward A. Riguardi Commercial Management Executive of the Year Award, was presented to Edward V. Piccinich of SL Green Realty Corp. As the EVP of Property Management and Construction, Edward manages the company’s real estate portfolio; the largest in New York. For over the past decade, he has served as the fulcrum component overseeing all construction projects for SL Green’s office, retail, and development investments across the City. 

This year, a new award was introduced to recognize a commercial building with the Best Engine Room Award. The winner was 30 Rockefeller Plaza, the centerpiece of Rockefeller Center and one of the world’s most famous and most honored office buildings.

Other award winners for the Commercial Management Leadership Breakfast were:

  • John M. Griffin Community Service Award: Larry Kochman of E-J Electric Installation Co. and Allen F. London of Solstice Residential Group, LLC. Both honorees, along with many others, performed outstanding work as real estate industry representatives at the Office of Emergency Management Center during Superstorm Sandy.
  • On-Site Manager of the Year Award: Bridget Cunningham of Vornado Realty      Trust. Bridget was recently selected as Property Manager for One Penn Plaza, the company’s largest and busiest property with 2.6 million square feet. According to her colleagues who nominated her, in the relatively short time Bridget has been in the industry, “she has accomplished very much and has worked tirelessly to make her property and staff better.”
  • Portfolio Manager of the Year Award: Michael Bosso of Brookfield Properties. Michael is responsible for the property operations of Brookfield’s 10.5 million-square-foot Lower Manhattan portfolio. Under his guidance and despite the difficult challenges posed by Superstorm Sandy, Brookfield Place (formerly World Financial Center), although located in Flood Zone A, never closed.
  • Engineer – Small Building of the Year: William Schweitz of ATCO Properties. For the third year in a row, Bill was given this award and recognized for his over 35 year commitment as Chief Engineer to 555 Fifth Avenue. Bill received the acknowledgement for his extensive knowledge of building operations and his positive attitude which his co-workers say inspires and assures staff, tenants and ownership.
  • Engineer – Large Building of the Year: Brian Iannacone of Hines. Brian is the chief engineer of the 45 year-old, 1.2 million square foot office building at 140 Broadway in Lower Manhattan. This year, in the face of Superstorm Sandy, Brian went above and beyond the call of duty, waiting it out until power had been restored and ensuring the building’s safety for its tenants.
  • Security Professional of the Year: Michael Cohen of Fisher Brothers. A security guard for 20 years, Michael still brings the same enthusiasm as if it were his first day on the job. He is not afraid to take on additional responsibilities, whether it is taking control behind the desk during an emergency situation or working long hours during Hurricane Irene and Hurricane Sandy.
  • Porter of the Year: Danny Abreu of ABM.  Danny’s 13-year career began at 1290 Avenue of the Americas, and according to property manager Steve Griffith, he is “one of the most dedicated individuals I have ever come across.”
  • Rising Star of the Year: Jason McCalla, project manager at Silverstein Properties, Inc. Since he began at Silverstein five years ago as an energy manager, Jason has expanded his role to include responsibilities related to wireless communications/infrastructure, negotiating rates with ESCOs, design/construction oversite for major electrical projects and other systems. During Hurricane Sandy, Jason played an integral role in the restoration of electrical, internet and telephone systems to the building.

In other REBNY News:

Although we have completely booked our tee times for REBNY’s Annual Golf & Tennis Outing, tennis players are still needed for the event on Monday, June 10 at the North Shore Country Club. Come and enjoy a great day of fun, food, drinks and prizes. Register online at For more information, contact Kathleen Gibbs at or 212-616-5246.

Come help celebrate the Retail Deal of the Year Awards presented by REBNY’s Retail Committee at the 15th Annual Cocktail Party from 5:30 to 7:30 pm on Tuesday, June 11 at the 101 Club, 101 Park Avenue. It is the real estate industry’s highest honors for commercial retail brokers. Tickets are $50. Register online at For more information contact Desiree Jones at

Ethical behavior, competitive bidding, new taxes and negotiating mortgage contingencies are some of the hot topics for the Residential Downtown Breakfast Roundtable Discussion from 8:30 to 11 am on Friday, June 14, 2013 at the Brotherhood Synagogue, 28 Gramercy Park South. REBNY’s Residential Division’s Downtown Committee hosts this event where participants spend approximately 20 minutes at a table before moving on to the next subject table. Seating is limited. REBNY members are $25 and non-members are $35. Register at For more information, contact Jay Perez at