Mayor Eric Adams has selected Eric Ulrich, a former Republican Council member from Queens, to serve as the commissioner of the city’s Department of Buildings.
Ulrich had been serving as a senior adviser to the mayor and was term-limited out of the Council last year. Adams also tapped Kazimir Vilenchik, to serve as the department’s first deputy commissioner, who’d served as a deputy borough commissioner and a borough commissioner for the buildings department for more than a decade.
“Eric Ulrich and Kazimir Vilenchik are the right leadership team at the right time for the Department of Buildings,” Adams said in a statement. “Our city and our economy cannot recover from the COVID-19 pandemic without a strong construction industry, and this team will deliver while prioritizing worker safety and customer service.”
Ulrich has represented parts of Southeast Queens including Broad Channel, Howard Beach, Lindenwood, Ozone Park, Rockaway Park and Woodhaven since 2009 when he won the seat in a special election as a 24-year-old.
City officials pointed to Ulrich’s time on the Council’s Committee on Housing and Buildings in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, which provided oversight on the city’s efforts to rebuild. Ulrich will be tasked with overseeing the zoning and building codes for the city’s more than one million buildings.
Ulrich will be facing some big issues as he oversees the city's massive building stock. Among them will be efforts to potentially convert unused office space into housing as well as the implementation of Local Law 97, a landmark bill passed under Mayor Bill de Blasio that mandates large buildings reduce emissions — buildings are the single biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in New York City.
Pete Sikora, one of the leading advocates behind the law, said he was cautiously optimistic.
"I will look into it in some detail but my hot take is that he could be a solid choice by Adams, and I hope he helps fully implement and enforce Local Law 97," Sikora tweeted following the announcement.