Janet Babin, Economic Development Reporter, WNYC News
Janet Babin is a reporter at WNYC covering economic development.
Asserting that his administration will take an "entirely different approach" to city planning, Mayor Bill de Blasio has named the co-chair of his Transition Committee, Carl Weisbrod, as New York City Planning Commissioner.
Announcing the appointment at City Hall, De Blasio said no other candidate for the job had comparable experience. "For 35 years, he has helped to revitalize and shape neighborhoods across the city," said de Blasio, describing Weisbrod's work revitalizing Times Square and 42nd Street and laying the groundwork for business hubs in Long Island City and Downtown Brooklyn.
Weisbrod joined city government under Mayor John Lindsay as an anti-poverty lawyer. He also worked in the Koch, Dinkins and Bloomberg administrations, in a variety of planning and development roles. Over the years, Weisbrod said he learned the value of being "part of the neighborhood and not just an emissary from the city."
"I've learned that planning for sustainable neighborhoods requires more than zoning and aesthetics, although they are very, very important tools obviously," said Weisbrod. "It also requires capital and social investments as well as engaging the citizens of those neighborhoods in the process."
A key pledge of the de Blasio administration is to build or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing across the city, a challenge that will be the new planning commissioner's to tackle, along with the Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen.
Recently, Weisbrod was a a partner at HR&A Advisors, a real estate and economic consulting firm with offices in New York, Washington and Los Angeles. He was a senior executive of Trinity Church, serving as the president of the real estate division.
Weisbrod is a graduate of Cornell University and New York University's School of Law. He grew up in Parkchester and Fresh Meadows and now lives on Roosevelt Island with his wife, Jody Adams, a retired family court judge.
He replaces Amanda Burden, who during her tenure at the Planning Department oversaw the rezoning of more than a third of the city. Appointed by Mayor Bloomberg in 2002, she was widely credited with bringing an increased focus on design to revitalization projects. Critics complained that Burden had a socialite's tastes — she's the daughter of Babe Paley and Stanley Mortimer, Jr. — that added millions of dollars in costs to some of the city's high-profile real estate development projects.