NEW YORK CITY — Rafael Cestero, former commissioner of the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), will take over the helm of the Community Preservation Corporation (CPC) — the firm that is developing the New Domino complex in Williamsburg — effective Jan. 17.
Michael Hegarty, CPC board chair, said he replaces Michael Lappin, who served as president and CEO of the non-profit organization and its for-profit development subsidiary, CPC Resources Inc., for 31 years.
CPC, which was created in 1974 to stem a tide of abandonment in the city, has financed the preservation and development of close to 144,000 affordable housing units involving public and private investments of approximately $8 billion, according to Hegarty, who notes that Cestero is the ideal candidate to head CPC, given his leadership role in the affordable housing field.
“He brings a valued perspective with outstanding credentials in the public, private and non-profit sectors, underscored by impressive, results-oriented experience,” he said. “His creativity and unstinting commitment to affordable housing make him a perfect choice in these challenging times to build on Mike Lappin’s extraordinary legacy and record of achievement.”
Said Cestero in a published statement, “For anyone passionately concerned about affordable housing and our housing infrastructure, leading CPC presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. “The mission of CPC to provide affordable housing and a reliable source of capital for our housing stock has never been more important.”
Cestero, 43, most recently held the position of managing director of L+M Development Partners, a private sector developer of affordable and market-rate housing where he was instrumental in efforts to expand nationally and restructure the property management business.
“I would like to thank my friends at L+M, particularly chairman Ron Moelis for his unwavering support and counsel during this process,” he said.
Cestero was appointed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg as HPD commissioner in February 2009, serving until April 2011. During this period he launched a number of important initiatives, including the updated New Housing Marketplace Plan, a $750 million initiative to stabilize distressed multi-family properties.
Mathew Wambua, commissioner of the HPD, said: “Rafael Cestero knows the landscape, the developers, the government and non-governmental partners, how deals work and how to get things done. He’s creative and driven and, most important, he has an abiding passion for the creation and preservation of affordable housing, having worked in this field all his life. CPC and the city are both exceptionally fortunate to have him aboard in this key role.”
Prior to his HPD appointment, Cestero served as the deputy commissioner of development at HPD from 2004-2007 and worked for Enterprise Community Partners for 15 years in key leadership positions, including as director of New York programs and as senior vice president and chief program officer for the national Enterprise Community Partners.
He holds a masters degree in urban planning from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an undergraduate degree in public policy analysis from Cornell.
‘I Learned So Much From Mike Lappin
Shaun Donovan, secretary of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), recalls working for Mike Lappin at CPC in his first job.
“I learned so much from him. Today dozens of neighborhoods that were written off in the city’s darkest hours decades ago are vibrant and thriving thanks to Mike and CPC,” Donovan said. “I wish him all the best as he leaves CPC.
Donovan said he also worked with Cestero over many years and is “delighted that CPC’s leadership will continue in such strong hands” with Cestero taking the helm.
“I know firsthand his tremendous passion for affordable housing, community development and the people whose lives are transformed by that work,” he said.