Real estate group doesn’t fear de Blasio, won’t spend for Lhota

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Bill de Blasio at Red Hook Initiative. (Eliza Shapiro)
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Bill de Blasio's tough talk on real estate during the Democratic primary isn't helping Joe Lhota with deep-pocketed developers.

The president of the powerful Real Estate Board of New York, which spent $4.9 million on its preferred City Council candidates this cycle, said recently the board doesn't intend to do a similar independent expenditure to support Lhota in the general election.

"There clearly are no plans and not even any discussion about any campaigning on behalf of anybody for mayor," said Steven Spinola, the REBNY president, in an interview.

Spinola, a close ally of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, shrugged off de Blasio's rhetoric during the competitive Democratic primary, when the public advocate painted rival Christine Quinn as a tool of the real-estate industry and called the mayor's pro-development approach "incredibly counterproductive."

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"People say a lot of things in the campaign," Spinola said. "We go through campaigns all the time."

"I know Bill de Blasio," Spinola added. "He's not somebody that there's any reason for us to be frightened of. We've worked with him. We have no reason to believe he won't work with us."

Spinola said de Blasio's camp always stayed in contact with REBNY members, even as the candidate promised to "drive the hardest bargain possible" for developers to include affordable housing in new projects.

"I've heard it before and we don't mind a hard bargain," Spinola said.

De Blasio has taken a much more pragmatic approach to development than his primary rhetoric might suggest, and while one source in the real-estate industry said de Blasio was not REBNY's preferred candidate, the board opted to sit out the divisive primary.

De Blasio spokesman Dan Levitan declined comment for this article.

REBNY's decision is another financial blow for Lhota, who has struggled to convince some of his own donors that he's capable of overcoming de Blasio's 50-point lead in public polls.

De Blasio raised more than twice as much as Lhota in the most recent fund-raising period, and Capital reported this week that a coalition of local unions is planning to spend $2 million in support of de Blasio's campaign.