Government Real Estate

Neighborhood Groups Seek Delay of BRA 10-Year Urban Renewal Extension

The Alliance of Downtown Civic Organizations (ADCO) has issued a letter, representing seven neighborhood groups, requesting a delay of the 10-year reauthorization for the urban renewal powers in certain city areas by the Boston Redevelopment Authority. Associations joining in this letter are Bay Village Neighborhood Association, the Beacon Hill Civic Association, the Boston Chinatown Residents’ Association, the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay, the North End/Waterfront Residents’ Association, the South End Forum and the West End Civic Association.

The North End / Waterfront Residents’ Association (NEWRA) also sent its own letter opposing the 10-year extension, particularly the zone in the North End / Waterfront neighborhood. Watch a discussion of the issues at a recent NEWRA meeting.

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BRA representative, Corey Zehngebot, responded to the submittal of these letters in an email to NEWRA President, Ford Cavallari. The October 30, 2015 email restates the BRA’s position to renew the urban renewal zone extension.

Ford,

Thank you for your comment letter from ADCO and NEWRA. As you know, we have a meeting scheduled on Monday afternoon with Howard Kassler that I believe you are also attending. I look forward to discussing further.
The BRA has had an incredibly rigorous, comprehensive, and thoughtful process and this is an excellent example of the BRA’s ongoing organizational transformation. We may not be perfect, but we have absolutely leveraged this process to indicate a commitment to doing things better and in a more transparent way.
I think that the good that has come out of urban renewal has been overwhelming positive (particularly in recent years), and that the BRA should continue to use and have access to these tools in their toolbox (just like other cities across the state and country). I hope that you embrace the idea of a better protocol for information access and oversight. As previously stated, the BRA has treated this extension process with the seriousness that it deserves, and the conversations that it has provoked – about urban renewal, about the past abuses and successes of the BRA, about the important of planning, about the need for quality development – are well-timed during this rare period of self-reflection in the agency’s history.
Thank you for your engagement,
Corey
The BRA Board is expected to vote on the extension before year-end, followed by a vote of the Boston City Council and authorization from the Mayor’s Office. The State has the final approval of any urban renewal power extension.
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