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Former ESDC CEO Lago returns to NYC to head City Planning Commission

Marisa Lago at May 2009 state Senate
oversight hearing; photo: Adrian Kinloch
Carl Weisbrod, Mayor Bill de Blasio's City Planning Commission Chairman and Director of the Department of City Planning, is resigning,

And he's being replaced by Marisa Lago, currently a federal official, but who Atlantic Yards-ologists remember as the short-term Empire State Development Corporation CEO who, in an impolitic but candid 2009 statement, acknowledged that the project would take "decades."

Still, Lago not long after that played the good soldier at a May 2009 Senate oversight hearing, justifying changes in the project but claiming the public benefits remained the same.

By returning to City Planning, Lago will join former ESDC General Counsel Anita Laremont, who after retiring from the state (and taking a pension) got the job with the city.

Back at planning

Lago, a lawyer, in 1983 began work as an aide to City Planning Chairman Herb Sturz, and later served as the General Counsel to the president of the NYC Economic Development Corporation, Weisbrod himself.

As the Times reported, in One Last Big Project Begun, New York City’s Planning Chief to Step Down, that Lago plans to "to continue the planning department’s work on neighborhood development and 'inclusionary,' or affordable, housing.”

The Times said that, when working with Weisbrod, "the two negotiated what is regarded as the city’s best deal with professional sports, an expansion of the National Tennis Center in Queens."

The city press release


Mayor de Blasio Appoints Marisa Lago as Next Director of Department of City Planning and Chair of City Planning Commission

January 4, 2017

Carl Weisbrod to become Chair of Trust for Governors Island

NEW YORK—-Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced Marisa Lago will serve as the next Director of the Department of City Planning and Chair of the City Planning Commission. Carl Weisbrod will step down from these roles next month and assume new responsibilities as Chair of the Trust for Governors Island.

Lago brings nearly 30 years of public service to City Planning, where she began her career in City government in 1983 as an aide to Chairman Herb Sturz. She has served as President and CEO of the New York Empire State Development Corporation, Commissioner of the NYS Department of Economic Development, and the Director of the Boston Redevelopment Authority, which is the city’s chief planning and economic development agency. Lago also served as the General Counsel to then NYC Economic Development Corporation President Carl Weisbrod. She is currently the US Department of the Treasury’s Assistance Secretary for International Markets and Developments.

Lago will be charged with expanding the City’s efforts to secure more affordable housing in changing neighborhoods, to plan for growth responsibly and equitably, and to use the land use process to strengthen industries, businesses and communities. She will further a legacy built by Chair Weisbrod over decades.

Weisbrod’s achievements include the revitalization of Times Square, the rebuilding of Lower Manhattan after 9/11 and the negotiation of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, widely regarded as the best sports complex deal ever secured by a municipal government. Weisbrod co-chaired Mayor-Elect de Blasio’s 2013 Transition, and departs City Planning following one of the most remarkable years in its history. His recent record includes the passage of the nation’s strongest Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program and the most sweeping overhaul of the zoning text since 1961, which lowered the cost of building affordable housing and will foster a new generation of homes for seniors. The rezoning of East New York, approved in April 2016, represents a new template for comprehensive neighborhood planning. Just yesterday, the City Planning Commission certified the rezoning of East Midtown as part of a transformative plan to keep New York City competitive and invest in the area’s public transit and open spaces.

As the new chair of the Trust for Governors Island, Weisbrod will be a steward of the island’s open spaces and historic assets, and foster its development into a dynamic 24-7-365 community that includes education and innovation hubs.

“This is a bittersweet moment. Carl helped to build our administration and has been part of its bedrock. His contributions have earned him a place as one of our city’s great civic leaders, and we are honored that he has agreed to take on the task of continuing Governors Island’s incredible transformation,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Marisa comes to our administration with unmatched experience building neighborhoods and planning for the future. She worked side-by-side with Carl helping spur the city’s revitalization twenty-five years ago, and has a record of bringing communities together. We look forward to her taking up the reins as we build more affordable homes and foster the good jobs New Yorkers need.”

“It’s a great honor to come home to the city I love and be given the chance to make it ever stronger and more equitable,” said Marisa Lago. “Change is the one constant in New York, and it is never easy. I’ve had the privilege of learning how to make change work for people and businesses by watching leaders like Carl Weisbrod, and I have spent my entire career finding smart solutions to the tough problems that come with a growing, changing world. We can and we will keep our neighborhoods affordable, our economy competitive, our businesses thriving and our communities strong.”

“I am so proud of what we’ve achieve these past three years. From East New York to East Midtown, we are laying a foundation for truly affordable neighborhoods, world-class business districts and smart transit-oriented growth. It has been an incredible run, and I couldn’t be more thankful to the mayor and to my talented colleagues at City Planning,” said DCP Director and CPC Chair Carl Weisbrod. “I’ve spent my career fighting for New York City, and it’s fitting that my next chapter will take me to the new frontier on Governor’s Island. I am excited to shape into an iconic space of which all New Yorkers can be proud.”

About Marisa Lago

Marisa Lago currently serves as Assistant Secretary for International Markets and Development at the U.S. Department of Treasury, where she is responsible for the department’s portfolio on international financial services regulation, development assistance, climate finance, trade and technical assistance. She began her career in City government working for then-City Planning Commission Chair Herb Sturz in 1983. She later served as General Counsel at the City’s Economic Development Corporation under Mayor Dinkins.

Lago has extensive experience in economic development – leading the Empire State Development Corporation and serving the city of Boston as both Chief Economic Development Officer and Director of the Boston Redevelopment Authority, which is the city’s chief planning and economic development agency. She has also worked in the private sector with Citigroup and as an attorney.

Lago holds a bachelor’s degree in physics from Cooper Union and a law degree from Harvard Law School. She is fluent in Spanish. Lago was born in Brooklyn, and is 61.

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