Monday, April 18, 2016

For now, AY CDC's Jaiyesimi wears new hat, taking over ESD Atlantic Yards role from Filler

An interesting piece of news emerged at the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Community Update meeting last Wednesday.

Tobi Jaiyesimi, who last January was named Executive Director of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation, an advisory body that's a subsidiary of Empire State Development (ESD), the state agency overseeing/shepherding the project, now has additional duties.

"I wanted to let you know a slight staffing change on our end. Sam Filler is currently still at ESD. He has transitioned roles, and he will no longer working directly on this project," Jaiyesimi said. " I will be taking on some of his responsibilities as relates to this project specifically."

This needs an update
Does she have a new title, I asked.

"No, I like Director of the AY CDC," she said, adding that things are still in transition.

Indeed, they'll have to update the Welcome message (right) on the ESD's Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park page, at least.

Question raised: institutional memory

This raises a question of institutional memory.

Filler in July 2014 replaced Paula Roy, who replaced Arana Hankin, who, after being named the first-ever project director in 2010, left in July 2013 for a fellowship.

(Filler has worn several hats at the state authority, notably heading the craft beverage initiative, and I think Roy had other duties.)

Filler and Roy have master's degrees in urban planning; Hankin and Jaiyesimi do not. Jaiyesimi, a former chief of staff to Assemblyman Walter Mosley, was hired more for her expertise in the local political scene than experience overseeing real estate projects.

More importantly, the steady turnover means that developer Greenland Forest City Partners, notably through the role of longtime Forest City Ratner employees, has the most institutional memory regarding this project.

It also may mean that higher-ranking ESD executives, notably Marion Phillips III (Community Relations) and Joe Chan (Real Estate), call the shots. Heck, I'd bet Gov. Andrew Cuomo--to whom Forest City executives have good access--calls the shots.

Question raised: institutional cross-over

The job of AY CDC executive director was supposed to be a full-time job, as noted in the job posting below.

The job requires support for the AY CDC board members, most of whom are appointed by the governor, but several of whom--not appointed by Cuomo--who've emerged as persistent questioners of the parent agency. In other words, it could potentially support efforts to push the parent ESD.

But the executive director is also supposed to:
  • support the AY CDC President (Phillips)
  • "Provide strategic support, advice and positioning for the AYCDC President and related ESD Staff"
  • "Work with the developer, State and City agencies as needed, to resolve community issues, under the direction of the AYCDC President and related EDS staff"
  • "Assist in development of ESD/Atlantic Yards Project communication strategy; actively contribute to website & utilize methods of the social media"
  • "Represent ESD at community events and meetings in the Brooklyn community"
  • "Perform other job related duties and projects as required by the AYCDC President and or ESD Executive Management"
In other words, there was a lot of cross-over baked into the role from the start. And now that cross-over seems even more solid.

Atlantic Yards CDC Director Job Posting

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