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NEW YORK CITY-Mary Ann Tighe, CEO of the New York tri-state region of CB Richard Ellis, has been named chairman of the Real Estate Board of New York, succeeding Related Cos. CEO Stephen M. Ross as REBNY chairman. She’s the first female chair of the organization in its 113-year history, and the first broker to lead REBNY in 30 years.

Tighe, whose three-year term as chairman begins in January 2010, tells GlobeSt.com that three key issues for REBNY will include promoting affordable housing, making it “easier and safer” for construction to occur in New York City and taking steps that will help bolster the city–and by extension, the industry as a whole.

“It’s not generally known that 68% of all the tax revenue generated in New York City comes from investment properties,” she says. “That’s a staggering number, and the city has to keep the industry sound. Otherwise, our tax base disappears and with it a substantial part of our ability to do the things that count in this city, like keeping people safe, educating them and giving them decent health care.”

By the same token, “ours is the only industry in New York that can’t move its business out of town,” says Tighe. “New York City is our product, and so when we engage a question about the city, the first thing we have to ask ourselves about anything is: is it good for the overall city? If the answer is yes, then inevitably it’s good for real estate. Maybe not always in the short term, but always in the long run.”

In a release, REBNY president Steven Spinola says Tighe is “among the most influential members of our real estate community. She understands every aspect of our industry, what makes New York work and why tenants, commercial and residential, want to live, work and play in this great city. Her invaluable expertise will benefit our members and guide us as we navigate these unprecedented times.”

The “strong, dedicated and thoughtful leadership” Ross has provided as REBNY chairman has left the industry in his debt, Tighe says in a release. “These past three years have been challenging to say the least. Thanks to Steve’s leadership, REBNY played a major role in the creation and passage of many important federal programs, such as TARP and TALF, that will help the industry get through this terrible recession and emerge stronger.”

Spinola cites Ross’ advocacy for tax assessment fairness and concerns over the high cost of construction as a principal reason for tax policy reform. “The Industrial and Commercial Incentive Program was extended and appropriately amended, thanks to Steve’s ability to articulate the benefits of investments and the necessity for creative programs like ICIP,” Spinola says in a release. “He worked with the city to create and transition into a new and improved International Building Code that will result in safer buildings and bring our construction standards in line with the rest of the country.”

In a commercial real estate career that has spanned 25 years, Tighe has been responsible for more than 73 million square feet of commercial transactions, and her deals have anchored 6.2 million square feet of new construction in the New York region–a figure that’s believed to be a record in commercial brokerage. She is a six-time winner of REBNY’s Ingenious Deal of the Year awards. In 2004, Tighe received the Louis Smadbeck Memorial Broker Recognition Award, REBNY’s highest award in brokerage, and was awarded the organization’s Bernard H. Mendik Lifetime Achievement Award earlier this year.

Tighe tells GlobeSt.com that the REBNY board was making a statement about the increasing prominence of women in real estate by choosing one to chair the organization. “There are a number of women who could have been named; I was just fortunate enough to be the one,” she says. “But it’s a really a testament to the industry’s recognition of women playing an important part, and also its commitment to our playing an important part.”

As for a broker being selected to serve in a chairmanship that in recent years has gone to large property owners, Tighe says, “When the market turns down, it’s all about demand, not supply. I think of brokers as the guardians of demand in our industry, so maybe I got fortunate with that timing too.”

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