City Planning appoints new Brooklyn director

Winston Von Engel's appointment comes amidst borough's development boom

Winston Von Engel and a visualization of Brookln (Credit: BKLYNR)
Winston Von Engel and a visualization of Brookln (Credit: BKLYNR)

New York City’s Department of City Planning just appointed a new director for its Brooklyn office, The Real Deal has learned. Winston Von Engel, a 25-year veteran of the planning department, will direct the borough’s urban design and land use policy, guide housing and economic development initiatives, and advise the City Planning Commission on zoning issues. He takes the job at a time when Brooklyn is becoming a destination for major development projects.

“Today, Brooklyn is growing and thriving and I am particularly excited by this administration’s historic challenge to plan for, and especially the charge to plan with, communities for affordable housing and resiliency to make this a better and more equitable city for all,” Von Engel told TRD by email. He will replace Purnima Kapur, who became the department’s executive director in June.

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Von Engel, a graduate of the Pratt Institute, started at City Planning as an intern in the Brooklyn office, and was most recently the deputy director of that office. He has worked on initiatives such as the Downtown Brooklyn Plan, which aims to stimulate business in that neighborhood, as well as on Atlantic Yards (now Pacific Park Brooklyn), and on a study to examine the growth potential of East New York, which will be the site of the de Blasio administration’s first major rezoning.

In an email to City Planning staff last night, Kapur said that Von Engel’s experience and knowledge of the borough and its projects, coupled with “his enthusiasm and his commitment to mentoring the next generation of planners – not to mention his characteristic sense of humor – will serve him well” in his new role. Earlier this week, the department announced the appointment of its first chief operating officer, Jon Kaufman.

Brooklyn is in the midst of a development boom, with sharply rising land prices and a growing number of big-ticket rental, condominium and commercial projects. Sources told TRD that other Brooklyn neighborhoods such as Sheepshead Bay and Bushwick are likely to see rezonings in the near future.