The choice of Goldman Sachs alum Alicia Glen to be Bill de Blasio’s new deputy mayor for economic development and housing is getting the thumbs-up from the city’s architectural sector—especially the addition of “housing” to her title.
“She’s perfectly situated, with both the title and the mandate, to carry out the campaign promises of the de Blasio administration,” said Rick Bell, executive director of the American Institute of Architects’ New York chapter, in an interview with The Insider.
But Ms. Glen’s task will be an uphill one, Mr. Bell said. And the new mayor’s goal of creating and preserving 200,000 units of affordable housing will depend on her ability to streamline the approval of new construction projects, as well as better facilitate coordination between the various city agencies that oversee development.
Ms. Glen’s blend of public and private sector experience will hopefully give her an edge, he said.
“Alicia will be identified with Goldman Sachs from the outset,” Mr. Bell said, referring to Ms. Glen’s present position as the head of the global investment bank’s Urban Investment Group. “But let’s not forget that she has a [Housing Preservation and Development] background, and she really knows how this stuff gets funded and built.”
Mr. Bell’s remarks come on the heels of the release of his group’s first-ever mayoral platform, which was described as an effort to better engage the city’s mayoral candidates on issues regarding planning, sustainability and housing.
And they didn’t stop there. After Mr. de Blasio’s election, the AIA’s New York chapter teamed up with the Real Estate Board of New York, the National Resources Defense Council, and the Urban Green Council to submit a list of names to Mr. de Blasio’s transition team for potential government appointments. The list focused on six regulatory agencies that oversee what the archetypes call the city’s “built environment”: Buildings, Housing, Design and Construction, Citywide Administrative Services, City Planning, and Long-term Planning and Sustainability.
AIA also made additional recommendations for appointments to the departments of Transportation, Parks and Cultural Affairs, as well as the Landmarks Preservation Commission and Public Design Commission. And as part of its campaign platform, the organization suggested that a new “deputy mayor for design and construction” be created—although, with Ms. Glen’s recent appointment, it seems unlikely that Mr. de Blasio will see the need for such a position.
“We’ll see where it goes,” Mr. Bell said.
At the Dec. 23 event announcing her appointment, Ms. Glen said the de Blasio administration would turn away from many of the large-scale projects like Hudson Yards and Atlantic Yards that defined the Bloomberg era and would focus on smaller, outer-borough projects aimed at creating jobs for low-income communities. Jill Lerner, president of AIA New York, said that was a positive development, just as long as the new administration can get the various city agencies working in better coordination. She cited the Department of Building’s electronic-filing hub as one such innovation that could be expanded under the next administration.
“Mayor Bloomberg took it very far,” Ms. Lerner said. “And now Mayor de Blasio could take it even farther.”
She added, “We think this deputy mayor position could be the person to help take that concept of different agencies working together to develop parts of New York—and if it’s the development of affordable housing, something this city sorely needs, then that’s terrific.”
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