BY GABE HERMAN | There are shakeups underway at some of the top Governors Island leadership positions.
Michael Samuelian, who has been president and C.E.O. of the Trust for Governors Island since being appointed in September 2016 by Mayor de Blasio, will step down in early June.
The chairperson of the Trust’s board, Carl Weisbrod, will also reportedly step down, staying on the board but being replaced as chairperson by Alicia Glen, who recently left a position as deputy mayor in the de Blasio administration.
Although no official plans for a new president have been announced, Glen reportedly pushed out Samuelian from his leadership position at the Trust and plans to oversee development plans for the island, according to Politico.
Glen has been a board member at the Trust for Governors Island since 2014, and Weisbrod reportedly told her he was too busy to continue as chairperson, a position that controls staffing positions at the Trust.
There have been delays in a city plan to redevelop about 4.5 million square feet for mixed-use development on the southern part of the island. Although the mayor planned to have the island go through the necessary rezoning process in 2018, that has not yet gotten underway.
Other new programs recently have been introduced at Governors Island, including a new arts center set to open this September. This year there will also be expanded ferry service, hours and programs as part of the island’s public season from May 1 to Oct. 31.
“As of June 7, I am stepping down as president and C.E.O. of the Trust for Governors Island,” Samuelian said in a statement sent to this paper. “I am incredibly proud of all that we have accomplished, from extending public access and attracting new environmental and cultural partners, to the construction of our first new ferry and the creation of a responsible redevelopment strategy. Governors Island today is in a far stronger position than when we started nearly three years ago and is poised for a great future.
“I’m confident that Governors Island will be in good hands with new leadership,” he continued, “and look forward to visiting and watching this wonderful place become an even more special part of New York.”
Samuelian is an architect who was vice president at Related Companies from 2005 to 2016 and helped oversee that company’s design of the new Hudson Yards megadevelopment project. He is also an adjunct assistant professor at The Cooper Union.
Weisbrod, in a statement to this paper about Samuelian, said, “It has been an honor to work closely with Michael over the past three years. Under his leadership, the Island has seen a record number of visitors, expanded its season, attracted new uses, particularly cultural uses, and has established a foundation for sensitive redevelopment. Governors Island is now a beloved, magnetic destination for New Yorkers and visitors alike.”
Mayor de Blasio said of Samuelian, “I thank Michael for his service to the City and helping open up Governors Island to more New Yorkers than ever before.”