De Blasio names Weisbrod to lead planning commission

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio accounces Carl New York Mayor Bill de Blasio accounces Carl Weisbrod, right, as the chair of the City Planning Commission at a press conference at City Hall in Manhattan on Feb. 7, 2014. Photo Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

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Mayor Bill de Blasio Friday named the co-chairman of his transition committee to head the city's Planning Commission -- a post the mayor promised would break with his predecessor's priorities to drive the administration's progressive agenda on housing, jobs and inequality.

Carl Weisbrod, 69, a development expert whose city government service stretches back to 1972 and includes stints in the Koch and Dinkins administrations, was a key player in the revitalization of Times Square, Hudson Square, lower Manhattan and other areas.

"This is about using the planning process to achieve a bigger set of strategic goals," de Blasio said. "That includes the creation of affordable housing. That includes facilitating job development. That includes trying to address inequality."

In the past, de Blasio said, the planning commission has focused too much on aesthetics and not enough on broader policy goals.

Weisbrod -- an anti-poverty lawyer early in his career -- is one of 10 partners at HR&A advisers, a firm of real estate consultants with a long client list, including Goldman Sachs, Galesi Group, Milstein Properties, Millennium Group, and Forest City Ratner companies. Weisbrod, who held the planning job in the Koch administration, said he would cut ties with the firm.

De Blasio said the administration would review city planning with "fresh eyes," including Bloomberg's stalled proposals on rezoning east midtown and building a soccer stadium in Queens.

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De Blasio said the public should expect "a whole different set of goals than the previous administration had."

"The key goal of this administration is to produce 200,000 units of affordable housing, and they're going to be produced in neighborhoods throughout New York City," Weisbrod said.

De Blasio marveled at Weisbrod's role in cleaning up the sex trade and criminality that plagued Times Square through the 1990s.

"If I had given you a picture of today's 42nd Street and said, 'this guy Carl is going to make it look like that one day', I would've asked you what you were smoking," de Blasio said.

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