Former DOB Commissioner Melanie La Rocca Joins Developer BFC Partners

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One of the city’s top experts in government operations and construction is departing the public sector after 17 years to team up with BFC Partners.

Melanie La Rocca, the city’s first-ever chief efficiency officer, joined the Brooklyn-based developer on Monday as its new chief operating officer with a mission to manage BFC’s overall workflow, strategic thinking and organization of business processes.

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La Rocca said the firm’s legacy of work in the affordable housing sector and its partners’ commitments to the future of New York City was the most critical factor in coming aboard.

“The real draw to me was its reputation for being firmly committed to development,” La Rocca told Commercial Observer. “It is a place that is an innovator, has longevity, and an eye to the future. I don’t know if I could have found a better place than BFC.”

La Rocca is joining a firm with a growing portfolio of mixed-use properties and projects, including helping to develop Essex Crossing on Manhattan’s Lower East Side and the foreclosed Empire Outlets shopping mall in St. George, Staten Island. BFC also helped the city build the Major R. Owens Health and Wellness Center at the city-owned Bedford Armory in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, and is in the process of opening mixed-use housing projects in Coney Island and on Bay Street on Staten Island.

Leaving civil service wasn’t easy. La Rocca started her career as an intern with the New York City Council and as a legislative aide for Manhattan Community Board 4 before working her way up to being chief of staff to Council Speaker Christine Quinn

After more than five years in leadership roles in the School Construction Authority, where La Rocca helped implement the city’s universal pre-K program, Mayor Bill de Blasio tapped her to become commissioner of the Department of Buildings where she built testing centers on city-owned properties during the pandemic.

In March 2022, Mayor Eric Adams created a chief efficiency officer position to make city agencies more responsive to New Yorkers and chose La Rocca for the role. She sought to bring a customer service experience to the public sector by developing updated metrics to track agency responsiveness, customer satisfaction, and evaluations for work conducted.

“We were working with agencies to develop pilots for how you could secret-shop the program and create a sustainable model focused on getting in place a book of options for agencies to pick from,” she said. “The exciting part to me was to talk about how we deliver service to New Yorkers.”

After 16 months in the role, La Rocca was ready for a new challenge. 

“There wasn’t a moment to take a beat and decide what I want to do, where we’re going collectively in the city, and what brought me happiness and joy,” she said. “I missed the opportunity to be on the buildings side.”

Don Capoccia, managing principal for BFC, said he was thrilled to have La Rocca join the company’s leadership team.

“With her strong background in construction, operations, efficiency, development and external affairs, we are confident that she is going to be a great addition to the BFC family,” he said in a statement.