Occasional Profiles of Former City Law Fellows: Frank St. Jacques ‘11

Frank St. Jacques.

While in college at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Frank St. Jacques dreamed that one day he would live in New York City. He did not know then that it would ultimately lead him to becoming a land use attorney at a national law firm, Akerman LLP.

Frank grew up in Rochester, New York until the age of ten when his family moved to Tampa, Florida. Frank lived in Tampa through high school and then went on to the University of Florida, where he studied political science and anthropology. Soon after graduating from college in 1999, a friend phoned about having a spare room for rent in Manhattan’s Chinatown. Frank says that the room, despite being the size of a closet, offered such spectacular views of City Hall and the Twin Towers that he quickly grew to love it.

Frank spent the next nine years in the exciting world of contemporary art, working as an assistant director to gallerist Lucas Schoormans. A death in his family caused Frank to reevaluate his life and future career path. Inspired by his older brother who had attended law school at an older age, Frank entered New York Law School in 2008, at age 30.

At New York Law School, Frank developed a fascination for administrative law and became affiliated with the Center for New York City Law. He took several classes on City government and had his first internship with the City’s public advocate who was at that time Bill de Blasio. Working under the guidance of Tom Gray, de Blasio’s land use director, Frank was first introduced to land use and zoning as well as the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure. Frank began to recognize the positive and potentially negative aspects of development on communities and stakeholders while tracking development projects and attending public hearings. Among the projects that Frank followed was the initial redevelopment of the Domino Sugar factory site on the Williamsburg waterfront. Frank assisted the staff of the public advocate in establishing positions on proposed projects, which helped him gain a better understanding of the many challenges that land use practitioners face.

Upon graduating New York Law School magna cum laude in 2011, Frank followed his growing interest in land use by working as a Fellow for the Center of New York City Law. Frank wrote articles for CityLand about discretionary zoning and land use applications as they underwent public review.

Following his Fellowship, Frank worked for two years as an agency attorney for the City Administration for Children’s Services. He left ACS to return to land use and became an associate at Sheldon Lobel, P.C., a longstanding practice established nearly fifty years ago. There Frank assisted clients in obtaining approvals from the Board of Standards and Appeals, including special permits and variances. In addition, he worked on a number of rezoning applications subject to ULURP. These include 100 percent affordable housing projects in Ocean Hill and Brownsville, Brooklyn. Another project he worked on was the 376-378 Flushing Avenue Rezoning, the first project in the City to designate a Mandatory Inclusionary Housing Area with the Workforce Option, requiring an affordable housing set aside at moderate- and middle-income levels.

After four years with Sheldon Lobel P.C., Frank joined Akerman LLP as an associate. As part of Akerman’s New York Land Use and Zoning practice, Frank continues to work on projects subject to ULURP or requiring Board of Standards and Appeals approval. In addition, he conducts zoning due diligence to help determine the development potential of sites or assist clients in resolving zoning-related issues.

Currently, Frank is seeking rezonings to facilitate two mixed-use development projects: one in Astoria, Queens with approximately 200 units and another in the Unionport neighborhood of the Bronx that will bring approximately 340 affordable rental and homeownership units. Both projects will provide permanently affordable housing under the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program.

Frank hopes to continue working as a land use attorney for as long as possible. Frank is continuously fascinated and challenged by the zoning text, particularly complex sections and new or newly amended provisions. He is a member of the New York City Bar Association, Land Use, Planning and Zoning Committee. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his daughter and wife.


By: Viktoriya Gray

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