It has been five years since Dan Doctoroff reported to City Hall for work, but the former deputy mayor and current CEO of Bloomberg LP still finds time to think up interesting, even outrageous visions for the city. Well, they would be crazy if they did not have a habit of getting built. After all, so many developments that came out of Mr. Doctoroff’s unsuccessful bid to draw the Olympics to the five boroughs have since been realized regardless, from Atlantic Yards to Hudson Yards to Hunters Point South, the No. 7 extension, water taxis—the list goes on and on.
These success suggest that even though Mr. Doctoroff is no longer in command, might it still be possible to see a gondola stretch across the East River between Lower Manhattan, Governors Island and Brooklyn? Or a light rail line running the entire length of the waterfront from Astoria in Queens to Brooklyn’s Red Hook? Or, most audacious of all, tearing down the Javits convention center and moving it to yet another decked-over rail yard, this time in Sunnyside, where it would be surrounded by apartment and hotel towers and a sizable retail complex?
These were among the proposals Mr. Doctoroff put forward on Friday during a speech at the Municipal Art Society’s MAS Summit 2012. They were meant as examples for the next mayor to latch onto in order to “extend the achievements of the Bloomberg Administration by knitting new connections among emerging communities, amenities and institutions.”
Among the 90 speakers—including quite a few probable mayoral candidates—at last week’s cities conference, Mr. Doctoroff was asked to address what New York would need to do in order to succeed in the coming century. He decided to build his speech around the importance of the mayor and the priorities he believes any mayor (but especially those looking to succeed his boss) should have.
“I decided to frame it in terms of leadership because I have watched Mike Bloomberg over the past 11 years be a great leader and I do believe that mayors (for better and worse) truly make the biggest difference in the fate of the city,” Mr. Doctoroff wrote in a follow-up email. “I also believe that we can lose what we have gained quite quickly, as we saw in the 1970s.”
Mr. Doctoroff said he had three central questions that New Yorkers should ask of their would be mayors:
- “Does he or she truly understand what makes New York unique in an increasingly competitive world?”
- “Does he or she fervently believe in what I call the ‘virtuous cycle of the successful city?’”
- “Does he or she have the vision to fuel the imagination of this stunning city and then the courage and decisiveness to get things done?”
Of course Mr. Doctoroff himself had an answer, often lengthy, to each of these questions. To the first one, of uniqueness and global competition, he stressed that the city should not pine for the past, for legacy industries like manufacturing, for outdated ways of thinking, building and taxing. “If we begin to send signals, any signals, that we are not going to remain the most open city in the world, we will surely lose our edge,” Mr. Doctoroff said.
Mr. Doctoroff explained his “virtuous cycle” thusly: “We are a remarkably compassionate city. We believe that we need to help those in need, that we have to make the city more affordable, that we have to provide the tools for people to capitalize on opportunity. All of that requires money. That’s why our leaders have to have to truly get―and then they have to effectively manage―the virtuous cycle.”
He then, only half in jest, copped what sounded like a line from Gordon Gecko. “It starts with the core belief that growth―growth―is good,” Mr. Doctoroff said. “That the additional resident, business, or visitor generates net new revenues, which, if invested wisely, enhances the quality of life, which, in turn, helps to attract more residents, businesses and visitors, thereby perpetuating the cycle.”
This growth, this net new revenue, naturally leads to the visions Mr. Doctoroff was so famous for cooking up, and where he outlined the plans previously mentioned.