For Immediate Release
June 23, 2014
Rachaele Raynoff - (212) 720-3471
June 23, 2014 – City Planning Commission Chairman Carl Weisbrod today announced the appointment of Purnima Kapur as the next Executive Director of the NYC Department of City Planning (DCP), among other key personnel appointments and promotions that he said would enable the agency to advance a comprehensive, ground-up, community-based approach to planning in order to help achieve the Mayor’s ambitious housing objectives, accelerate economic growth and foster livable, resilient neighborhoods. Weisbrod said the appointments are the initial steps in a reorganization of DCP to ensure the provision of the most efficient customer service to applicants, communities, and the public. Kapur is currently the director of City Planning’s Brooklyn office, where she has spearheaded several large scale planning efforts and overseen a period of unprecedented growth and development in the borough. Kapur was also instrumental in increasing the proportion of affordable housing in the Domino project, a private application for the Williamsburg waterfront.
“Purnima Kapur has a distinguished record of achievement and strengths in planning, urban design, managing staff, engaging communities, negotiating with developers and forging consensus that are essential for the successful management of our ambitious agenda,” said Chairman Weisbrod. “From working with communities throughout the five boroughs to identifying opportunities for growth and redevelopment to creating strategies for a more resilient and sustainable city, I am confident that Purnima’s wisdom, experience, intelligence and interpersonal skills, will serve our Department and the City of New York very well indeed.”
Weisbrod noted that Kapur’s leadership of DCP’s East New York study is a template for how the agency will work with communities on comprehensive plans to create opportunities for new affordable housing, retail and amenities, jobs and services, and also address the physical infrastructure needs of each area.
Kapur began her career at DCP in 1989 as a planner, rising through the ranks to lead the Bronx and Brooklyn offices. In these positions, she developed and oversaw some 40 Department-initiated area-wide rezonings, working with diverse communities and neighborhoods to foster housing and economic development, access to waterfront and open space, preserving and protecting stable neighborhoods and directing growth to transit corridors. Among the major initiatives she led were the Comprehensive Plan for Coney Island, as well as the review of developments on the Greenpoint Williamsburg waterfront, Downtown Brooklyn and Gowanus.
"Purnima is an ideal choice to become the Executive Director of the Department of City Planning, "said Tucker Reed, President of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. "She demonstrates an understanding of the complex and nuanced issues of growing neighborhoods and how zoning and policy changes work to achieve big picture goals for the city. When we worked together to reform Downtown Brooklyn parking regulations, she addressed the needs of the development community, surrounding residential communities, retailers and business owners by reducing and rationalizing parking requirements, ensuring a more lively and pedestrian friendly street environment and ultimately decreasing the cost of development especially for affordable housing. Purnima understands the City we face today, is not afraid to take on thorny issues and undoubtedly will utilize her depth of experience and common sense approach to foster economic growth and provide new housing and job opportunities in neighborhoods throughout the city."
"Over the many years I have worked in Brooklyn I have come to know Purnima as smart, creative and thoughtful, and open to exploring new ideas to address the evolving nature of our industrial and business areas. She is able to strike a careful balance between competing stakeholders and get things done," said Andrew Kimball, CEO of Industry City. "It is a real asset for the city that she will now get to play a broader role in all five boroughs."
Randolph Peers, CEO of Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow, said, "As former chair of community board 7 in Brooklyn, Purnima and I worked closely on several projects including East Windsor Terrace rezoning, and the expansive Sunset Park rezoning. In each instance, we had to deal with very diverse constituencies. Purnima approached each process in the most thoughtful and transparent way, partnering with the community board to ensure all voices and opinions were heard while extending herself to any stakeholder who wanted input. In the end, we crafted balanced rezoning plans that protected neighborhood character, allowed for modest growth where appropriate and preserved thousands of units of affordable housing. Her leadership at the time was exemplary, and she is an excellent choice to serve as Executive Director at City Planning."
As Director of the Bronx Office, Kapur oversaw the largest rezoning effort in the borough’s history. She led initiatives to foster housing and economic development such as Port Morris and Morrisania. She also managed several highly complex applications through the land use review process including Yankee Stadium and the Bronx Terminal Market. Kapur holds dual Master’s degrees in Planning and Architectural Studies from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Bachelor’s of Architecture from the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi, India.
As part of the agency restructuring, Weisbrod announced the creation of a new position of Chief Operating Officer, to provide high-level support to the agency’s critical administrative and operational divisions, and our core planning activities. The changes will enable DCP to more efficiently serve its diverse customers and build on the momentum of BluePRint, an initiative that is streamlining and creating greater predictability for the land use application process. This position will be filled in the near future.
This builds on Weisbrod’s commitment, already in practice, to begin public review on land use applications when they are ready, allowing changes to be made as part of the 7-month ULURP process, rather than delaying applications to refine them beforehand. Speeding up the process prior to certification into public review is expected to reduce the cost of development, and is part of an ongoing effort to increase DCP’s efficiency, transparency and customer service.