Volume 22, Number 54 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | May 21 - 27, 2010
As Chief, McSpiritt will oversee a team of attorneys who serve as business transactional counsel for the City on commercial, negotiated real estate development projects, as well as projects between State and City entities. The Division’s work promotes the City’s economy and landscape while reimagining it for the 21st century
BPC resident returns to NYC Law Dept., this time as chief
BY John Bayles
Jim McSpiritt has been living in Battery Park City for 18 years, since his son Charles, who’s now a junior in college, was three years old. He’s seen the neighborhood and all of Lower Manhattan change dramatically, and now he will not only continue as a resident observer, but will be a major player in the economic development of the area as well.
McSpiritt was recently been named the Chief of the Economic Development Division of the NYC Law Department. He served in the law department previously in both the economic development and municipal finance divisions. He has returned after a stint at the Phipps Houses Group, a nonprofit developer, owner and manager of affordable housing where he served as general counsel and corporate vice president.
“Early this year the opportunity to return to the law department presented itself,” said McSpiritt. “The chance was not an opportunity I could turn down.”
The BPC resident said he’s lucky when it comes to his new role. There are 15 people in the division and he’s worked with all but one of them; in his opinion that fact serves as a tribute to the law department and to the division.
Active projects currently on his desk include the future plans for Governor’s Island and the city takeover of Brooklyn Bridge Park. As for Governor’s Island, McSpiritt said his division’s role is meeting the administrative needs to transfer the island over to a city-controlled entity.
“The benefit is that it will be in the control of the people here,” he said. “We pick up the legal underpinnings of that and make sure the transfer happens in a time efficient manner.”
He was excited when asked about the future of Lower Manhattan. As far as work goes, he said the biggest project would no doubt be the continued redevelopment of the World Trade Center.
He noted the change from when he first moved to BPC, when the only option for his son in terms of a park was the old Pumphouse Park. He said one of the more evident changes now is the sheer number of people walking around.
The role of economic development, according to McSpiritt, is seen in the emergence of a mixed-use attitude where residential and business interests combine to create a community as opposed to divide it.
“You’ll see separate components [coming together] in a unified way that wasn’t there before.”