Common Ground for Common Good: Mediating Private Development with Public Planning

This four-part seminar will review and examine the dynamic interaction of private and public interests that have shaped some of the most important real estate development proposals in Boston in the last two decades. Through specific case studies, the course will focus on understanding Boston’s public development review and permitting process and will explore what it takes beyond a sound financial pro forma to get a building project through the community process and to earn political support and approval from the city. Throughout the seminar there will be an effort to identify key factors between success and failure within this intricate process, with presentations and discussions exploring key issues and questions including:

  •  How politicians, advocates, activists, and the community advance their constituents’ interests by leveraging private developers and their projects.
  •  The varying approaches and tactics that private developers adopt in response to unpredictable public expectations and external forces.
  •  The value of having a well-established public participatory development review process where conflicting views and opinions can be expressed and debated.
  •  The critical role played by the public planning agency in mediating conflicts between public and private interests and negotiating mutually beneficial compromises capable of being implemented.
  •  As community development review procedures become more common in zoning and permitting regulations in other global metropolitan areas, what are the lessons from Boston? Can they be generalized and improved to add value, quality and advance both public and private interests in other urban real estate markets?


Specific Dates: February 5, 26; March 4, 11