Standing at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Mayor Eric Adams today announced several new appointments to his economic development team, with an eye turned toward revitalizing Midtown Manhattan coming out of the pandemic.
“We need to bring together all of the entities in our city – education, employment, infrastructure, housing – what is New York now post-COVID?” Adams said. “We have not done that. And we can’t stumble into it. And so, if there’s going to be a hybrid model, we need to not stumble into that hybrid model, we need to be clear on that model. Who we were pre-COVID is not who we are post-COVID.”
In response to a reporter’s question, the mayor made it clear that while hybrid models will likely be the new normal, the city cannot fully abandon in-person work. This is especially important, Adams said, because moving to an entirely work-from-home model could negatively impact low-wage workers.
“You can’t stay home in your pajamas all day,” Adams said. “That is not who we are as a city. You need to be out cross-pollinating ideas, interacting with humans. It is crucial, we’re social creatures. And we must socialize to get the energy that we need as a city.”
To do this, Adams charged his economic development team with looking at how Midtown and the city’s other central business districts can be reimagined for a post-pandemic era. The mayor said this could include possibly rezoning these areas, so traditional office buildings could also accommodate housing space.
“Post 911, we changed the zoning and changed the ways we could do housing and office space and I think we should be open to do so,” Adams said. “Whatever it takes to get people back into our business districts. And if it means a conversion to housing, we need to think about those things and get it done in a real way.”
Additionally, the mayor said large companies downsizing their office footprints could provide an opportunity for smaller outfits to get Midtown offices without having to rent an entire floor.
To lead this effort, Adams appointed his Deputy Mayor for Economic and Workforce Development Maria Torres-Springer as the head of his economic development team. He also announced the appointments of Andrew Kimbal to lead the city’s Economic Development Corporation and Lindsay Greene as chief executive of the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
The mayor also reappointed Anne del Castillo and Clare Newman to continue serving as commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment and leading the Trust for Governor’s Island respectively.
“Each member of this diverse group of individuals truly knows the communities they serve, and has the skills, the talent, and the emotional intelligence to shepherd an inclusive and equitable economic recovery for all New Yorkers,” Adams said. “Appointing a team like this is how we bring back our city stronger than ever.”