Mayor Bill de Blasio’s choice of seasoned real estate executive Carl Weisbrod to lead the City Planning Commission suggests that hizzoner has a far more nuanced approach to development than campaign rhetoric may have suggested, according to New York Post columnist Steve Cuozzo.
Though de Blasio’s progressive agenda “scared the daylights out of the real estate community,” as Cuozzo put it, the choice of Weisbrod suggests a pragmatic, holistic approach to land use matters. A real estate man “through and through,” Weisbrod has a track record that proves an understanding of how development and improvements beneficial to the community can benefit one another, Cuozzo wrote.
“More than any ideologue, he knows how to get things done,” Cuozzo wrote. “But neither does Weisbrod subscribe to the knee-jerk ‘all development is good’ school… he has always viewed large-scale new construction as essential — but never in isolation.”
A key challenge facing Amanda Burden’s successor will be the fate of Midtown East’s stalled rezoning, Cuozzo writes. Pushing an acceptable measure for allowing larger buildings in the 73-block district won’t be easy, “but if anyone can do it, it’s Weisbrod,” Cuozzo said.
“He has yet to fail,” Cuozzo wrote. “And with New york City’s role as the global capital under strain, we can’t afford for him to break the streak.”
Weisbrod, who beat out Vicki Been, executive director of the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy at New York University, to snag the CPC chair appointment, began his career as an anti-poverty lawyer, suing the city on behalf of squatters and families in welfare hotels. He was later recruited to the John Lindsay administration, then headed up Mayor Ed Koch’s Midtown Enforcement Project and the New York City Economic Development Corporation under Mayor David Dinkins. He also worked with Mayor Rudy Giuliani to refresh a Financial District then in decline. Most recently, he headed up Trinity Church’s real estate division for five years, departing in 2010 [NYP] — Julie Strickland