- Posted at 2:19, December 09, 2013
- By Russ Bleemer
SL Green Realty Corp. President Stephen L. Green kicked off the firm's 16th annual investor presentation earlier this afternoon in New York with reassurances that the mayoral candidate the business commmunity was against won't hurt the city's real estate interests now that he is in office.
Green mostly left the company's investment outlook for Marc Holliday, the company's CEO who is speaking at this writing. (Holliday also took a broad look at the city's prospects before focusing on the company, which included highlighting, early is his remarks, lease deals announced today; the company also announced a big lease deal with MetroNorth Railroad in the Graybar Building on Lexington Avenue adjacent to Grand Central Terminal early this morning.)
Green noted at the outset that since 2008, his firm had "remarkable growth," in which he said its value had more than doubled from slightly over $8 billion to slightly over $17 billion. He added that the firm's stock price in the period has more than tripled.
But he quickly turned to prospects for New York City Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio's administration. "It's an extraordinary time for our city since 2008," said Green in his opening. "Our city has recovered brilliantly."
His view of what he and his firm sees for 2014 was a wide-ranging socio-political forecast.
He cited the creation of jobs ahead of the rates around the county, increasing number of city residents, and more tourists as key indicators of strength.
“The city has become a powerful and most diverse employment machine,” he declared, with city growth 20% greater than national growth.
He strongly praised dropping public employment. The share of public sector employment, said Green, notwithstanding that population grew, dropped 22% since 1994. “That’s a major accomplishment especially in urban America,” said Green.
The key to the stabilized economy, he said, is "our city’s commercial diversity." He said “Our other core industries have flourished,” which tech and new media keep growing, with technology companies' leasing has tripled over the last three years.
He lauded Mayor Michael Bloomberg's three-term performance, and particularly focused on the $64 billion invested in infrastructure, he reported, from 2003-14. It is the "single biggest factor in securing New York's growth in decades to come," he said.
Then, Green lamented the elections that resulted in the "triumph of liberal progressive mayors" here and in Boston and Seattle last month.
It was "well documented" that the business community didn’t support Bill de Blasio, at least in the polls, he said.
But he had a lot of what he said was good news. He said, "anxiety regarding progressive or liberal mayors is largely disproved by our history.”
"But," continued Green, "I think we may be overreacting." He cited the administration of Abraham Beame in the mid-70s as liberal leadership that overcame a fiscal crisis, and the 1980s Koch administration that provided liberal conception of social services but was tough on crime.
He said the Dinkins administration failed because it failed to focus on keeping crime down, and indicates the public’s strong demand for public safety.
Putting his best foot forward, Green said, "I am confident that the mayor-elect will continue this city’s transition to public progressivism."
Another positive, Green suggested, is that Mayor-elect de Blasio received little union support, in Green's view. With contract negotiations imminent, he said, "I don’t believe that Mayor de Blasio will accede to their wishes."
He said that de Blasio will act decisively on crime, because "our new mayor will be judged by our city’s crime metrics."
He said de Blasio's choice for police chief, William Bratton, was a personal friend, and strongly backed his return to the position he held in the 1990s.
Green concluded with a pat on the back for real estate industry participants . . . and a warning for the new mayor.
"A partnership between the real estate community and the city will be critical to the success of the new mayor's vision," he said, invoking affordable housing goals.
But, he cautioned, de Blasio needs to know that 37% of all city revenue comes from the real estate profession.
"We will never let him forget that,"said Green.