The next president of the city's Economic Development Corporation will be the first woman to serve in that position, but she will not be allowed to work on every project before the agency. Maria Torres-Springer has to recuse herself from any business that involves her husband, a partner at a major real estate consulting firm. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.
When Maria Torres-Springer takes over as president and CEO of the city's Economic Development Corporation, she will become one of the most powerful people in New York real estate. She was said to have been a favorite for the position for months, but sources say her appointment was held up because of her husband's work for a prominent real estate consulting firm, HR&A.
Any delay, though, is now over. Torres-Springer is taking the top job at what's known as the EDC, and her husband, Jamie Torres-Springer, is stepping down as a partner at the firm. He will remain an employee.
The city's Conflicts of Interest board issued a 14-page decision on the matter.
"I think this shows a long-standing incestuous relationship between the real estate industry and the EDC. And the EDC is a very problematic entity from a good government point of view. They are really not transparent at all," said Susan Lerner of Common Cause New York. "And are not really accountable to anybody."
The conflicts board says Maria Torres-Springer must recuse herself from projects her husband is also involved in. She will be allowed to work on business with her husband's employer, but only after he gives up his partnership, and so long as HR&A's business with the EDC amounts to less than 5 percent of its total revenue from the previous year.
A spokesman for the mayor said, "Incoming President Torres-Springer sought the COIB's guidance to identify and resolve any potential conflicts. She will closely follow the board's guidance."
The firm where Maria Torres-Springer's husband works has close ties to the de Blasio administration. The city's planning commissioner, Carl Weisbrod, was a partner at the firm, and the head of the city's public housing authority, Shola Olatoye, worked there as well.