downtownexpress.com
Volume 19 Issue 49 | April 20 - 26, 2007

Maikish, Downtown’s construction commander, resigns

Charles Maikish announced on Tuesday he would resign as Downtown’s construction czar after two years on the job.

Maikish, 60, the executive director of the Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center, said when he took the job in 2005, he told Gov. Pataki and Mayor Bloomberg that he wanted to stay on for two years. The center, funded by a variety of government agencies, is responsible for coordinating about $10 billion worth of construction projects Downtown, including all that are valued over $25 million.

He said keeping residents and small businesses informed of construction disruptions is crucial.

“The key element is you have to communicate effectively, efficiently and immediately,” said Maikish.

Many Downtowners had been criticizing the center for a lack of communication, which was the subject of a front page Downtown Express article March 23. Since the article, several residents and business owners critical of the center said they noticed improvements in communication.

Maikish said the center won’t slide back with his departure. “The command center is not a one-man show,” he said. “We have a lot of good people – Robin Forst is excellent.” Forst, a Battery Park City resident, has been an effective trouble shooter, according to many Downtowners who have gone to the center with problems.

In his resignation letter, Maikish wrote “the direct reporting relationship to the offices of the governor and the mayor is the prime reason why the command center is able to function successfully.”

Maikish told Downtown Express last month that he had not met with Eliot Spitzer since the governor took office in January.

Avi Schick, president of the Empire State Development Corp., and Maikish both said the resignation was voluntary. A rebuilding official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press, agreed: “He jumped. He wasn’t pushed.”

Maikish is expected to leave on or before July 15. Schick and Deputy Mayor Daniel Doctoroff are likely to lead the search for his successor.

Members of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation’s board of directors thanked Maikish for his service at their meeting Tuesday. The board also approved $23 million to cover the construction center’s upcoming budget. Maikish said it will be higher this year as they set up programs as the construction goes into high gear.

The center is also the direct manager of the project to dismantle the former Deutsche Bank building at 130 Liberty St. The removal of the building’s top began in March and Maikish said he thought they’d be able to complete the deliberate takedown of the damaged skyscraper by the end of the year.

Maikish worked on the construction of the original Twin Towers and later became director of the World Trade Center for the Port Authority, where he worked for nearly three decades. He led the effort to reopen the towers after the 1993 terrorist bombing. Maikish was an executive with J.P. Morgan Chase immediately before joining the center.

He had one change he would have liked to have seen at the center. “I would have set it up to have enforcement power but what we do have is the cooperation of the city agencies that do have enforcement,” he said.

He warned his successor of the biggest challenge ahead. “I think the hardest thing is to manage the details,” he said. “It is going to be a 24-7 effort.”


-- Josh Rogers





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