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Department of City Planning names General Counsel Laremont (ex-ESDC) as Executive Director

With the departure of Executive Director (since 2014) Purnima Kapur, the NYC Department of City Planning (DCP) has named General Counsel Anita Laremont has her replacement.

The press release, below, cites Laremont's previous work for DCP, as well as her role as General Counsel to the Empire State Development Corporation (now Empire State Development). Regarding the latter:
Prior to that [private sector job], Laremont served for more than 16 years as General Counsel of the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), New York State’s primary economic development entity. While at ESDC, Laremont was involved with numerous large-scale economic development and land-use projects in New York City and throughout the state, including transformative projects such as the 42nd Street Development Project, Brooklyn Bridge Park and Governors Island.
Atlantic Yards goes unmentioned, not surprisingly; why mention a contentious issue?

Her previous appointment

In November 2014, I noted that AY was unmentioned when Laremont was previously appointed: "Somehow Atlantic Yards didn't get a mention, nor Laremont's defense of ubiquitous consultant ARKF when queried by Senator Bill Perkins."

That was a reference to a January 2010 hearing Perkins held. "Has AKRF ever found a situation where there was no blight?" he asked, drawing laughs from the audience.

"Let me just say," Laremont responded, a bit sternly. "AKRF does not find blight. Our board finds blight. AKRF does a study of neighborhood conditions. They give us a report, and we make a determination based on that as to whether the area is blighted."

Actually, as I wrote, it was hired to "prepare a blight study in support of the proposed project," as shown in the contract scope for AKRF's work for ESDC. It was hired to "[d]etermine the study area for analysis of blight conditions" and to "[d]ocument blighted conditions." 

Also, as of 2014, Laremont was the considered in the top five among the state's double-dippers, earning $185,000 as general counsel for DCP, while drawing a $114,166 pension for her ESDC work. Her 2017 compensation, according to the SeeThroughNY payroll database, exceeded $212,000.

The press release, in full, below


ANITA LAREMONT NAMED EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF CITY PLANNING
August 22, 2018 – Department of City Planning (DCP) Director Marisa Lago today announced the appointment of Anita Laremont as DCP’s next Executive Director. Laremont, who currently serves as DCP’s General Counsel and Chief Analytical Officer, will begin in her new role September 4.

“With a deep mastery of land use policy and planning, legendary problem solving abilities, a storied public service career and her trademark good humor, Anita’s promotion means that DCP will continue to focus its significant talents and energies on planning, urban design, transparency and efficiency to benefit communities across the five boroughs. I am thrilled that Anita has agreed to take on this new role,” DCP Director Marisa Lago said.

“I am honored and delighted to be named DCP’s next Executive Director. With big shoes to fill, I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues at DCP, in New York City government and in communities throughout our city on the important land use challenges and complexities that we face as we work to make sure that our city continues to be the best that it can be for generations to come,” Anita Laremont said.

“I am so pleased to be passing the baton to my good friend and my close colleague, the amazing Anita Laremont. Under her leadership, I know that DCP, and indeed our city, will be very well served,” said Purnima Kapur, DCP’s outgoing Executive Director.

Using its many land use tools, DCP encourages the creation of affordable housing and jobs for all New Yorkers, while simultaneously enhancing the public realm and promoting quality design.

DCP’s greatest strength comes from the hands-on local expertise of the cadre of expert city planners in its borough offices, in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island. Each of these counties has a population, and urban planning needs, that are greater than most America cities. These borough-based planners work hand-in-glove with planners at DCP’s central office, who specialize in areas such as urban design, zoning, waterfront, housing, economic development and environmental review. The DCP team also includes demographers, technologists and administrative staff, all working to support the agency’s planning mission.

Laremont will succeed Purnima Kapur who has served with distinction as DCP’s Executive Director since the start of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Administration. Laremont will continue to serve in her current role until a replacement is named.

At DCP, Laremont helped create and adopt two seminal citywide text amendments -- Mandatory Inclusionary Housing and Zoning for Quality and Affordability -- which fundamentally reshaped how affordable housing is produced and designed. She was a key architect of the City’s efforts to redevelop East Midtown, through the Vanderbilt Corridor and Greater East Midtown plans, and the related exploration of the transfers of development rights as a tool to promote the public interest. She has been intimately involved in all of DCP’s neighborhood studies.

“I am thrilled that my longtime friend, Anita Laremont, will be named Executive Director of the Department of City Planning. Anita has been an exemplary public servant as long as I’ve known her, and she has been a champion for affordable housing – which the city desperately needs – throughout her career. She knows the city backwards and forwards on a neighborhood by neighborhood basis, and I am confident her expertise will serve the city well. I wish her the best of luck and I congratulate her on this exciting new role,” City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said.

“My team and I have worked with Anita on many occasions. We know and respect her, and we believe she is a knowledgeable and dedicated city planner. Perhaps as important, she is a Staten Islander who understands our community, concerns, and unique challenges. Our Borough Hall team looks forward working with her even more closely in the years ahead,” Staten Island Borough President James Oddo said.

"Anita Laremont is a class act and straight shooter. She has served DCP and worked with our commission for years to ensure the City's planning initiatives and those of private developers serve and protect the public. I look forward to working with her in her new leadership role," said Kenneth J. Knuckles, Vice Chair of the New York City Planning Commission.

“Anita is among my favorite people and one of New York’s most talented public servants. She has proven time and again that she has the leadership skills, intelligence and respect from her colleagues it takes to help lead the Department of City Planning as it meets the economic development and population challenges of this rapidly evolving 21st Century. Congratulations Anita,” said Carl Weisbrod, former DCP Director.

“Anita’s extraordinary integrity, good judgment, and willingness to listen make her perfect for this extremely important position. The City is lucky to have such talent, character, and intelligence on the City Planning team,” said Vicki Been, the Boxer Family Professor of Law at NYU School of Law, an Affiliated Professor of Public Policy of the NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and Faculty Director of NYU’s Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy. Been previously served as Commissioner of Housing Preservation and Development for the City of New York.

“Anita Laremont is a highly capable attorney and public servant who is committed to helping assure the sustainability of a vibrant New York for all,” Carol Kellermann, President of the Citizens Budget Commission, said.

“Creativity in city planning and strong legal skills are a powerful combination that Anita Laremont has wielded in the service of New York City. It was a pleasure working with her to deliver much needed improvements to Greater East Midtown that will keep it a world class business district for generations to come. I congratulate her on this new role,” said Riverside Park Conservancy President and CEO, and former City Councilmember Daniel Garodnick.

Immediately prior to joining DCP as General Counsel in 2014, Laremont was a partner in the law firm of Harris Beach PLLC, where she had a real estate, land use and government agency practice. Prior to that, Laremont served for more than 16 years as General Counsel of the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), New York State’s primary economic development entity. While at ESDC, Laremont was involved with numerous large-scale economic development and land-use projects in New York City and throughout the state, including transformative projects such as the 42nd Street Development Project, Brooklyn Bridge Park and Governors Island.

Laremont has served as a Trustee of the Citizens Budget Commission, and as Co-Chair of its Economic Development Committee. She is a member of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, the State Bar and the American Bar Association. Among a number of board affiliations, she currently serves as First Vice-Chair and Chair of the Development Committee at Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Gardens in Staten Island, where she resides. Laremont is a magna cum laude graduate of Mount Holyoke College, and received her J.D. from the New York University School of Law, where she was a Root Tilden Scholar.

Department of City Planning
The Department of City Planning (DCP) plans for the strategic growth and development of the City through ground-up planning with communities, the development of land use policies and zoning regulations applicable citywide, and its contribution to the preparation of the City’s 10-year Capital Strategy. DCP promotes housing production and affordability, fosters economic development and coordinated investments in infrastructure and services, and supports resilient, sustainable communities across the five boroughs for a more equitable New York City.

In addition, DCP supports the City Planning Commission in its annual review of approximately 450 land use applications for a variety of discretionary approvals. The Department also assists both government agencies and the public by advising on strategic and capital planning and providing policy analysis, technical assistance and data relating to housing, transportation, community facilities, demography, zoning, urban design, waterfront areas and public open space.

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