Doing Good by Doing Well: Planning and Development Case Studies that Promote both the Public Good and Real Estate Value

This seminar will study how the messy and complex forces of politics, planning and the real estate market have collectively shaped Boston’s urban fabric and skyline in the last two decades. Using some of the city’s most important real estate development proposals as case studies, the course will dissect and analyze Boston’s negotiated development review and permitting process to explore what it takes beyond a great development concept and a sound financial pro forma to earn community and political support. Throughout the seminar there will be an effort to identify strategies for success and pitfalls for failure within this intricate approval process and how these lessons can be generalized and applied to other cities and real estate markets. The following are some key issues and questions the seminar will explore:

  • How can the city enlist real estate developers in the implementation of public planning and economic development policies and objectives?

  • How do developers build great buildings and places that deliver extraordinary public benefits and civic value to the city that are also commercial successes?

  • How the continual give and take between planners, developers and the community can lead to innovative planning and creative developments that enhances both the public good and real estate value.

  • How politicians, advocates, activists, and the community adjust their expectations and negotiating positions depending on the project proponent and the purpose of the project.

  • How developers modify their proposals and vary their negotiating tactics in response to unpredictable public expectations and non-market forces.

  • How the city’s planning agency uses its broad discretionary powers to mediate conflicts and negotiate workable compromises between competing community and development interests.