Governor Spitzer nominated H. Dale Hemmerdinger to be Peter Kalikow's replacement as MTA Chairman. Hemmerdinger is a real estate developer with long and varied ties to New York City. He is the president of ATCO Properties and Management, which owns and manages two million square feet of residential, commercial, industrial, and retail space. A longtime backer of Democratic politians, Hemmerdinger's wife donated $40,000 to Spitzer's campaigns since 2000, and Mrs. Spitzer hosted a fundraiser at the Hemmerdinger's Central Park South home last month, according to the Daily News. He is also the former head of the nonprofit Citizens Budget Commission, where he recommended balancing the MTA's operating budget by hiking subway and bus fares, as well as increasing tolls for motorists.
The New York Times profiled Hemmerdinger all the way back in 1994 and described him as more of a real estate investor concerned with improving his existing properties than going on development sprees like another real estate owner, Donald Trump, (even though Hemmerdinger's mother bothered him to follow Trump's lead.) He was not originally going to get into the real estate business. He graduated from NYU in 1967 with a BA in fine arts. He was getting his Masters degree with an eye towards serving in the Foreign Service when a family friend said that his father's business needed his help. Currently, Hemmerdinger's own son Damon has followed him into the business and last year opened a high-end retail "village" with office space in Queens.
The nominated MTA Chairmain remains very active at NYU, serving on various trustee committees and there is a Hemmerdinger Hall named after him at the school's Silver Center for Arts and Science. Although he's long been a solid backer of Democrats, the nominee is also a trustee at the Manhattan Institute and City Journal, both of which are nonprofit, but generally have a more conservative outlook.
So once again, the MTA may have another real estate mogul as its head. This probably makes sense, as the MTA owns a significant amount of land that it is looking to develop, e.g. the Hudson Yards. Hemmerdinger needs to be approved for the job by the State Senate in Albany. We bet he would get along well with Mayor Bloomberg. In the 1994 Times profile they mentioned how he would pay employees $100 for each pound they could lose and would pay $500 if one quit smoking. Shades of the Mayor's plan to pay for good behavior.