From The Real Deal:
Bill de Blasio promised a bold new approach to running New York. However, based on the names being bandied about for the City Hall jobs that matter the most to the real estate industry, the new boss might look a lot like the old boss.
Indeed, on the short list for chair of the Department of City Planning (which arguably has the most direct impact on the real estate business) are three people who are on the 13-member City Planning Commission now under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, according to several industry sources. The candidates mentioned to The Real Deal are: Anna Hayes Levin, Michelle de la Uz and Kenneth Knuckles.
“The changes are not going to be nearly as great as people assume,” said Fred Siegel, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a New York-based think tank, who worked on Rudy Giuliani’s 1993 mayoral campaign.
De Blasio’s 60-member transition team — which is co-headed by real estate veteran Carl Weisbrod and Jennifer Jones Austin, the head of a nonprofit social services agency — is tasked with vetting potential appointees.
The team, which was announced last month and also includes developer Douglas Durst and Forest City Ratner CEO MaryAnne Gilmartin, is expected to start naming commissioners in early December. But some positions might not be filled until after de Blasio takes office on Jan. 1, sources familiar with the process said.
De Blasio, sources added, believes that a person with seasoned knowledge of the minutiae of zoning codes would be a tremendous asset.
Of the three contenders, sources say, the front-runner is Levin, who was appointed to the commission in 2009 not by Bloomberg but by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, who will be inaugurated as the city’s comptroller in January. As a result, she’s not seen as a holdover from the current administration, sources said.
Levin — a Yale graduate with a law degree — has a bit of grassroots appeal, too. She came to City Hall via Community Board 4 on Manhattan’s West Side, which grappled with numerous redevelopment plans while she chaired the land-use committee.
Levin opposed Bloomberg’s earliest redevelopment proposal for the rail yards site, which included a stadium for the Jets football team, while pushing for elements of the office-building-focused plan in place now. She did not respond to a request for comment.
De la Uz, meanwhile, could satisfy different political aims for de Blasio. As executive director of the Fifth Avenue Committee, a social justice group that builds affordable housing in South Brooklyn, de la Uz could presumably help advance de Blasio’s goal of creating 200,000 affordable units. She also lives and works in the 718 area code, which is the natural power base of de Blasio, a Park Slope resident who represented that area on the City Council.
...de la Uz is also said to be a strong favorite to lead the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, the city’s affordable-housing-creation arm, which is expected to be more active under the new mayor...
You may remember de la Uz's "no" vote on Willets Point.
And since the co-head of de Blasio's transition team is a "real estate veteran", it's pretty clear which direction the administration will be headed in.