"The transformation of lower Manhattan has been an enormous team effort– with the city, state and federal governments working together, investing together, and forming partnerships with the private sector."

MICHAEL R. BLOOMBERG

CEO of Bloomberg LP & Former NYC Mayor
  • 03/22
  • BPC People
  • Community

BPC PEOPLE – DELLA LEE

Title: Real Property Administrative Assistant

Favorite BPC Spot: South Cove

For more than three decades Battery Park City has been the domain of the delightful Della Lee.

Born in Harlem Hospital and raised in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, Della Lee attended St. Ambrose elementary school, St. John’s Junior High School, and Bay Ridge High School. Her first job was as a bookkeeper at Norton Simon, Inc., a multi-industry corporation that manufactured consumer products such as Halston perfumes and Heinz ketchup. After Norton Simon merged with Esmark in 1983, Della found a new bookkeeper position with Industrial Utility Corporation, based in Brooklyn.

Hard work and good impressions paid off, however, as in 1984, Della was contacted by her previous Norton Simon supervisor with a job opportunity at the Battery Park City Authority. Little did Della know at the time that accepting the job as Assistant to the Director of Central Records would give her a front seat to lower Manhattan history.

Since most of Battery Park City was undeveloped, Della initially worked out of a trailer before being the first Authority employee to move to the 18th Floor of what was then 1 World Financial Center, as built by the property development firm of Olympia & York (the building is now known as 200 Liberty Street, part of Brookfield Place). As File Clerk, Della was first to move into the building as she was responsible for maintaining the Authority’s personnel files.

Throughout her years Della held a variety of different positions at BPCA. From File Clerk to Central Records Coordinator, and from Assistant to the Director of Human Resources to Executive Secretary to the President, Della’s distinguished tenure at the Authority has spanned five Governors, five Mayors, and 11 Authority Presidents.

In 1999 Della earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from the College of New Rochelle, and in 2008 she began work as an Administrative Assistant to the Vice President of Real property, where she still serves today.

Her best memories involve attending openings and inaugural events for buildings built up and down Battery Park City’s 92-acres, as the neighborhood grew from a display model to a fully developed urban oasis. She and her co-workers who helped the site transformed from landfill to a burgeoning residential and commercial community saw themselves as one big family – a unique moment in New York City history she will always treasure.

In her spare time, Della volunteers for her church’s nursing home ministry, along with her husband of 30 years. She enjoys traveling, bowling, attending jazz dinners, VIP fashion shows, street festivals, and has recently taken up Soul Line dancing. She gushes about her niece and nephew, who she raised since they were newborns and would take to family events hosted by BPCA over the years. They grew up as the Authority itself did, and witnessed the transformation of downtown with their Aunt Della at the fore.

Della is proud of what the community has become and is thankful for the BPCA – not only for providing her a work family, but for introducing her to her best friend, Danielle Fyffe, who worked for the Authority in Affirmative Action and later in Human Resources. Della and Danielle became best friends at the Authority, which grew into a bond of sisterhood.

Danielle passed away three years ago but remains alive and well in the heart of Della Lee, still here making memories at the BPCA. “Until we meet again,” Della says, looking up to the sky, reminiscing about her wonderful decades spent at the Authority with her best friend.

 

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