With a city as historical as Boston, the community is benefiting from the popular development agency, Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA). An urban planning and economic development agency for the City of Boston, BRA works hand-in-hand with other city departments and community groups to shape the city into an even better place to live, work and play.
BRA was established by the Boston City Council and the Massachusetts Legislature in 1957 to oversee development that was previously led by the Boston Housing Authority and was later expanded to include development beyond public housing. In 1993, the BRA and the Economic Development and Industrial Corporation (EDIC), a quasi-public entity that leads local economic development activities at industrial and manufacturing properties in Boston in accordance with an economic development plan, were merged into a single citywide development agency. They continue to maintain their separate functions as established by the Massachusetts Legislature.
BRA has 200 professionals who serve the city in a variety of ways, from architects who review the smallest details of a historic building in Roxbury to project managers who host a community meeting for a new affordable housing project in Dorchester. BRA professionals work in 14 different divisions, including planning, zoning, development and housing, and closely collaborate to support the BRA’s planning and economic development work.
The agency is responsible for growing the tax base, cultivating the private jobs market, training the workforce, encouraging new business to locate in Boston and existing businesses to expand, planning the future of neighborhoods with the community, identifying height and density limits, charting the course for sustainable development and resilient building construction, advocating for multi modal transportation, responding to the city’s changing population, producing insightful research on our City and ensuring Boston retains its distinctive character.
BRA-led Planning and Development Initiatives
With so much responsibility in the hands of the agency, BRA has a number of significant achievements. Here are two successful communities that BRA led planning and development initiatives.
Dudley Square and the Ferdinand Building is a targeted municipal investment and a vibrant mix of old and new businesses breathe new life into a historic neighborhood center. This development brought 18,000 sq. ft. of new retail space and 160,000 sq. ft. of adaptable office space in the renovated Ferdinand Building, 528 new customers for local businesses via Boston Public School Administration, three opportunities for indoor and outdoor public art pieces and street and sidewalk enhancements to improve bus operations, vehicle traffic and pedestrian safety.
The E+ (energy positive) Green Buildings in Boston are an example of another BRA successful initiative that is giving back to the grid, the environment and the community. The E+ initiative offred 10 energy positive units with up to $200 estimated annual payout from utility companies to homes selling excess energy back to the grid that received a 5/5 stars from the Home Energy Rating System. The initiative includes partnerships with NStar, National Grid, the Massachusetts Chapter of the US Green Building Council, and the Boston Society of Architects.