Volume 18 • Issue 18 | September 23 - 29, 2005

New man takes over B.P.C. agency

By Ronda Kaysen

Downtown Express file photo by Elisabeth Robert
James Cavanaugh, left, is the new C.E.O. of the Battery Park City Authority, replacing Tim Carey.
Tim Carey, president and C.E.O. of the Battery Park City Authority, left his post this week, handing the reins of the 35-year-old agency to C.O.O. James Cavanaugh.

The agency was founded in 1969 to oversee the development and maintenance of a 9,000-resident neighborhood, which was created out of the landfill from the construction of the World Trade Center. Carey’s departure was carefully timed to follow the lease of Site 26 to Goldman Sachs for their new headquarters, which was signed at the end of August. The Goldman deal marks the end of the “build out” phase of the authority’s mission, leaving only one plot left to be leased, which is in negotiations with developer Milstein Properties. The last plot, known as Site 23/24, is at the west end of the neighborhood ballfields and negotiations are expected to be completed on the lease in a few months.

Carey, 58, had expected to announce his resignation last spring, but when the investment bank unexpectedly withdrew its plans because of Downtown security concerns, Carey stayed on another five months. Cavanaugh, 52, joined the authority in January 2004 so he could be groomed for succession.

“[John] Cahill asked me if I could stay until it was finished,” said Carey in a telephone interview. Cahill, a Governor George Pataki appointee, supervises the Lower Manhattan projects. The Goldman Sachs deal “got bogged down and I soldiered on, if you will.”

Despite concerns from neighborhood residents that not enough community amenities were being bestowed upon the neighborhood by the investment bank, Carey is satisfied with the final outcome. “It’s good for Downtown, it’s good for New York City and it’s good for the country,” he said, adding that the details of the lease — a $161 million lease through 2069 — did not change at all.
With Goldman resolved, Carey announced his resignation on Sept. 12.

Carey joined the authority in May 1999 and guided the agency through its darkest hours in the aftermath of the World Trade Center disaster.

“The headlines said that no one would ever live or work here again,” remembered Carey. “We started our cleanup on Thursday after the Tuesday attack. We opened up the first business six days after the attack… it was a singularity of purpose from everyone involved.”

The authority was the first agency to break ground on a new development after the attack — an 82,000 sq. ft. Museum for Jewish Heritage addition — and finished the first new public amenity by the following July. “We got up, we got moving. We were able to obtain electricity, water, telephones. We all worked together.”

Most noted for ushering in an era of environmentally “green” developments, Carey also created Teardrop Park and the Irish Hunger Memorial, a memorial to the great Irish famine and migration of the mid-19th century. Carey will likely become the C.O.O. of the New York State Power Authority, of which he was a board member until last week.

“Tim is going to be sorely missed. He had incredible dedication to the Battery Park City area,” said Julie Menin, chairperson of Community Board 1. “He showed great leadership in restoring the area after 9/11.”

James Cavanaugh, Carey’s successor, settled into his new position last week. Cavanaugh was Town Supervisor of Eastchester, a town with 30,000 residents in Westchester County, New York before he joined the authority last year. “It’s a great challenge,” he said of his new position in a telephone interview.

Although the authority’s role in the neighborhood is rapidly changing, Cavanaugh does not see its role diminishing anytime soon. “Just because the parcels have been awarded doesn’t mean our work ends,” he said. “Just because we know where we’re going doesn’t mean we’re there yet.” Developing the remaining parcels will take several years and require coordination with the Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center, the agency created to oversee all the development projects Downtown.

Cavanaugh does not plan to make any sweeping changes to the structure of the billion dollar agency that generates around $60 million a year of the City of New York. “From the public’s viewpoint they’re not going to see any substantial changes,” he said.

Ronda@DowntownExpress.com


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