Volume 20, Number 45 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | November 3 - 9, 2010
Downtown Express Photo by Terese Loeb Kreuzer
Gayle Horwitz at a Battery Park City Authority Board of Directors meeting on October 26, the day she was appointed president of the Authority.
Gayle Horwitz takes Battery Park City Authority helm
BY Terese Loeb Kreuzer
Last week, the conference table in Gayle Horwitz’s office at the Battery Park City Authority was decorated with a handsome bouquet of tulips — a congratulatory gift from her brother Jeff. On October 26, as anticipated, the B.P.C.A. Board of Directors appointed Ms. Horwitz president of the Authority, replacing James Cavanaugh, who retired at the end of September.
Ms. Horwitz, 46, joined the B.P.C.A. in June as chief operating officer. After Mr. Cavanaugh’s retirement, she became acting president. She is the first woman to serve as president of the B.P.C.A. since it was founded in 1969 and has day-to-day responsibility for running the organization. She reports to chairman William C. Thompson, Jr., with whom she has worked since 1996 when both were at the New York City Board of Education.
Ms. Horwitz assumes the B.P.C.A. presidency at a time when the Authority is undergoing profound changes in its role and responsibilities.
“Battery Park City is at a crossroads,” she said. “We’re coming to the end of building out the master plan. As we close that chapter, we’ll be changing from a real estate developer and opening a new chapter as real estate owner and manager.”
Ms. Horwitz also takes the helm at a time of significant personnel turnover at the Authority. Mr. Cavanaugh was one of eight long-term B.P.C.A. employees to accept New York State’s generous buy-out offer and opt for early retirement.
“There’s a lot of institutional knowledge walking out the door and that’s hard to replace,” Ms. Horwitz commented. “But I think change is good. I like change.”
One of the first things she did after arriving at the Authority, she said, was “to sit down with every single person one by one.” Thus far, she has talked with more than 60 B.P.C.A. employees, and she isn’t finished.
“I like to know very directly who I’m working with,” she said. “It’s an opportunity for people to tell me what they do – what they like to do – what they don’t like to do. I want to hear everybody’s story directly from them and for them to know me. Having done that has helped craft what I think we can do in terms of moving forward and understanding what resources I have.”
Among the projects on the table are the completion of the rehabilitation of Pier A (the landmarked 19th-century pier at the southern end of Battery Park City), the completion and opening of the community center on North End Avenue, the replacement of the ball fields grass with artificial turf and the negotiation of ground rents, which Battery Park City condos pay to lease the land on which they were built. Ground rents in some of the older buildings in the southern end of Battery Park City are slated to rise steeply, which many condo owners say would make their apartments unaffordable.
Ms. Horwitz brings an impressive set of skills and experience to these issues. A graduate of Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Mass. with a double major in history and politics, she worked as a Congressional intern between her sophomore and junior years and spent a semester of her junior year working in Albany for the Programming Committee of the New York State Assembly.
After graduation, she entered Macy’s executive training program and was assigned to the New Haven store. At the age of 22, she had a staff of 25 people and ran a $2.5 million business. This was a prelude to graduate school at New York University and a master’s degree in public service.
Eventually, Ms. Horwitz went to work for the City. From 2002 to 2010, she was employed in the New York City Comptroller’s office, first as Deputy Comptroller and Chief of Staff and from 2007 to 2010, as First Deputy Comptroller.
Of her work in the Comptroller’s office she said, “There’s really nothing in city government you don’t touch or get involved in -- paying all the bills and registering all the contracts –– so the skill set that I take away from that in terms of contract management and public finance I really feel will help me in this job. Twenty years ago, one of my first jobs in City government was at the Department of General Services where I was director of operations for the division of the city that managed all the buildings, cars and phones. We managed around 10 million square feet of buildings. So I’m familiar with what’s involved in property management, too.”
Reflecting on her approach and management style she described herself as “the kind of person who has been trained to look at a problem, pull it apart and put it back together again. I’m very operations oriented and very hands on. I’m a problem solver. I ask lots of questions. I’ll ask the same question five times, I’ll ask it five different ways.”
Ms. Horwitz is married to lawyer David Kolodny. They will celebrate their 15th wedding anniversary this month. They have two children — Jonathan, 12, and Michael, 6.
“My husband pitches in and really helps out,” Ms. Horwitz said of how she handles it all. “I have a great support network. My kids are supportive, too. They get it. Mom works and they’re excited about it.”