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Boston to host Rose Center Faculty for Daniel Rose fellowship study on Land Use

March 30, 2015

Outside experts to help City evaluate future development opportunities along Jamaica Plain's Washington Street Corridor.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced that the Urban Land Institute’s 2014-2015 Daniel Rose Fellows will visit Boston March 30 - April 2 to help the City evaluate development opportunities. The Rose Fellowship is a year-long program that provides cohort cities with technical assistance and outside expertise on a land use challenge. Boston was chosen to participate this year, along with Pittsburgh, Seattle and Omaha. Awarded to four cities nationwide, the fellowship is an opportunity for the study of each city’s urban landscape.

Based on the current plan for growth zone areas in Boston, the chosen focus-area is Washington Street, between Forest Hills and Egleston Square. This area was chosen by a cohort of Rose Fellows in consultant with the Boston Rose Fellows (Policy Chief Joyce Linehan; Housing Chief Sheila Dillon; John Fitzgerald, Senior Project Manager at the Boston Redevelopment Authority; and coordinator Danny Green, Deputy Chief of Policy).

Fellows from other partnering cities will be in Boston during the week of March 30 to study the site and gather information before making a formal presentation to the City of Boston on Thursday, April 2 at 9:30am in the BRA Board, 9th floor of City Hall. This presentation is open to the public.

“We are honored to have been selected by the Rose Center for this opportunity,” said Mayor Walsh. “The concepts and ideas that this group of national experts can provide will be extremely valuable as we figure out how to maximize the potential of the Washington Street Corridor, so that it contributes positively to the growth of our city. I look forward to a robust public process to hear the thoughts of the community on the results of this study, as they know the needs of their neighborhood best.”

According to Rose Center Executive Director Jess Zimbabwe, the panel’s work represents an excellent opportunity to revitalize a key area of the city that has significant economic development potential. “We are very excited to work with Mayor Walsh and his team to help re-energize the Washington Street Corridor,” Zimbabwe said. “The goal is to leverage the area’s human capital and existing development to attract new investment in a variety of land uses that will provide an economic boost as well as enhanced public space that benefits the entire community.”

“Local officials play a critical role in land use decision-making, and we are excited to see the opportunities and outcomes on Washington Street resulting from the Rose Center’s partnership with the City of Boston,” said National League of Cities CEO and Executive Director Clarence E. Anthony. “The National League of Cities is proud to support the Rose Center’s mission to work with elected leaders and staff to promote the best land use policies in urban areas, which results in building better communities for our residents.”

The Washington Street Corridor, approximately one mile from the Forest Hills MBTA station to Egleston Square, presents the City of Boston with an opportunity to reassess the identity, create a new vision, and think strategically about the types of uses, the public realm, and the scale of development that are best suited for the Corridor and for the Jamaica Plain neighborhood.

The Boston Redevelopment Authority is currently embarking on a planning study of the Corridor. The City of Boston is looking to the Rose Center to augment this study by providing recommendations and lend an independent voice as the City considers options including transit-oriented development as well as other residential and commercial options along the Corridor.

The study of the Corridor must examine and determine the compatibility of different uses including housing, commercial, and light industrial while studying the impacts of traffic and other forms of transportation. Of particular focus is the recent wave of mixed use residential projects making their way to the Corridor, and determining the implications of redevelopment. The study will also focus on reassessing the identity of the Corridor in which the public realm will be studied in order to create more consistency and beautification efforts from end to end. Property owners, public agencies, and other stakeholders should have a clear direction for the future of the Washington Street Corridor at the completion of the study.

The first task will be an inventory and assessment of existing land use, zoning, demographics, recently permitted development or development under review, transportation, and parking along the Corridor, as well as an identification of the opportunities, priorities, issues, and weaknesses within the Corridor.

These opportunities and priorities will help to determine a vision that matches community desires with the realities of the current real estate market conditions for the Corridor. The next step will be to create and consolidate urban design and transportation improvement recommendations as well as build-out concepts based on the community vision for the future growth of the Corridor. The final step will be to identify responsible parties and assign timelines for implementation.