Photo: Andrew Rauner Photography
When Shari Hyman stepped down after four years as president and chief operating officer of the Battery Park City Authority in September 2017, she bid farewell to a booming 92-acre enclave she affectionately dubbed the “best small town in New York City.”
Many of its residents, workers, diners, shoppers, students, mariners, anglers, ballplayers, dog-walkers, film-watchers, concert-goers, hotel guests and chess players will tell you that their little river town got even greener, livelier and friendlier on her watch.
The secret of her success? The accomplishment she’s most proud of? Programming. Suddenly, the parks, the marina and the promenade were pulsating with new and reinvigorated activities.
“I managed to increase free public programming by $1 million — while keeping the budget of the authority intact,” Hyman said.
How? She redirected resources and streamlined costs to double down on community needs. The bottom line: In her last year at Battery Park City, 50,000 people attended field days, movie nights and happenings like Dockappella, River & Blues, Strings-on-the-Hudson, even a Swedish Midsummer Festival.
It’s all about serving the community, she argues. Since then, Hyman has left the public sector. Changed jobs. Shifted to the private sector. Yet much has remained the same. Geographically at least, she couldn’t be much closer to her old job. She simply moved a couple of blocks, from the west side of West Street to the east side.
But there are other points of commonality. Hyman still serves the downtown community. Some of her visitors, customers and stakeholders are those she worked with across the street. Most critically, she’s still doing her bit to fuel Lower Manhattan’s resurrection from the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.
Hyman is now vice president and general manager of Westfield World Trade Center Property Group, a position she’s held for the past seven months, and her charge is to run the company’s sprawling retail operations at the WTC, with 85 shops, and Fulton Center, with 16.
The shopping magnet — located in the Oculus, or main hall, of the WTC Transportation Hub, and on Fulton Street in a second transit center — is the most ambitious retail destination built in the area since 9/11. It replaced the original WTC mall that was obliterated that day.
“My chief responsibility is getting the retailers the services they need and the sales they need to be successful,” Hyman said.
She’s being modest. Most malls have outdoor signage to lure customers. Most have swift routes for the delivery of goods. Westfield WTC has neither.
Santiago Calatrava’s vast steel-ribbed Transportation Hub, its exterior resembling the spreading wings of a dove taking flight, doesn’t post retail signs. All its deliveries proceed underground, entering via the WTC’s Vehicle Security Center for screening.
“Security can never be compromised,” Hyman said.
So marketing has to target residents, workers, commuters and tourists to make sure they’re aware of the below-grade retail, and she’s constantly interacting with public entities like the Port Authority and the MTA to foster deliveries and address security concerns.
“Their customers are our customers, and they’ve been great partners in making this a beneficial, customer-oriented experience,” Hyman said. “The whole idea is to balance everybody’s interests in a communal space.”
A 1988 Columbia University graduate, Hyman got her law degree in 1991 from Northwestern University’s School of Law and worked as a prosecutor for Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau in the sex crimes, welfare fraud and labor racketeering units through the 1990s.
Starting in 2006, she served as ex-Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s director of the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement, and in 2011, became chair of the city’s Business Integrity Commission, which shields the trade-waste industry from mob influence, a post she held until moving to Battery Park City Authority in 2014.
“She’s an absolute legend within the downtown community and around the entire WTC campus,” said Rachel Kraus, Westfield WTC’s vice president of marketing.
“There’s been a dynamic shift since she came in, it’s more friendly, open, customer-centric, engaging, and it’s creating great memories for residents, tourists, commuters and business travelers,” Kraus added.