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In a forgettable year, NYBC turns 80.

If 2001 won't turn out to be a really good year for the real estate market, it will mark at least one milestone to be thankful for. This year, the New York Building Congress turns 80 years old, proving that no matter how tough the times get, New York will always have a use for professional builders and developers.

"This is a milestone that demonstrates the longevity of a very unique concept to New York City," says Richard T. Anderson, the president of the Building Congress. "No other city in the country has a Building Congress that is as widely constituted. We have 1,500 official members, but many of them represent organizations that have thousands and tens of thousands more people. This organization is a credit to New York."

The New York Building Congress was officially born in April of 1991. On this date, 25 building industry professionals, including engineers, architects, and contractors came to the office of architect Robert D. Kohn to discuss how to create a better communication medium for New York's vast building industry.

"We started out with the idea that the only hope for effective improvement in the industry was to render through cooperation of all of its elements some measure of service which the public had the right to demand of it," Kohn remembered later.

Within a short time, the New York Building Congress was organizing golf outings and award ceremonies, providing New York's real estate professionals with a chance to meet and discuss industry news on a regular basis.

For the first 60 years of its existence, the Building Congress remained pretty much a network organization, putting most of its resources into casual business meeting. But in the 1980's, with the arrival of first organization president George Fox, the Congress turned to the political arena.

"In the 1980's a decision was made to become much more active with public policy and lobbying," remembers Anderson. "I think it was a combination of having the right volunteer leadership, led by George Fox, and the importance of several major public issues, most notably the West Way Proposal for the West Side of Manhattan."

Since then, the Building Congress has contributed to almost every major development project in the City, including the creation of the New York City School Construction Authority, the Javitz and the World Financial Center, the New York City capital budget, the MTA capital improvement program, and the Queens West project.

Anderson is careful to point out, however, that the organization concentrates on contributing to the City's economic development and leaves political controversy to others.

"The focus of the organization has been on industry wide activities, that that affect everyone from architects to contractors to engineers," he says. "The Building Congress does not get heavily involved in issues that are the legitimate concern of other organization. If the industry is divided on an issue, when we are neutral. One of our greatest challenges is to devote our attention to those things that everyone agrees on, where we can make a difference."

Anderson, who became president in 1994, takes great pride in the organization he leads.

"It's a very unique organization in a terrific industry," he says. "If you take all of the economic strength of real estate and construction and design, collectively we represent about 25% of the City's economy. We are a tip of a very large iceberg."

Still, one of Anderson's principle ambitions' as the Congress president it to increase membership.

"The outlook for the Building Congress now is to involve a much greater number of the industry leaders," he says. "We have more than doubled the membership since I arrived and we want to keep doing that. Greater participation is an overriding goal and through that we hope to provide greater economic leadership in the City."
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Title Annotation:New York Building Congress
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1U2NY
Date:Jul 18, 2001
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