The Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) is piloting a new process for awarding discretionary funds associated with community benefits for large development projects. The program will allow interested and eligible applicants to request a community benefit grant from the BRA by completing a standard application form. The BRA will initially test the new process by releasing $400,000 of the total $630,000 in community benefits that stem from the D Street Hotel project, located at 371-401 D Street in the South Boston Waterfront. The agency ultimately hopes to utilize the same model on a citywide basis if the pilot proves to be successful.
As mandated during the BRA’s review process for large development projects, officials from the agency work with community members and developers to negotiate a benefits agreement to offset the impacts of a proposed project. Community benefits, sometimes referred to as mitigation, often specify particular organizations or programs that will receive support. For example, a developer might agree to fund improvements to a nearby park that the community would like to enhance.
In the past, however, when a benefits agreement included discretionary funds, the process for awarding and allocating this money was unpredictable. Funding opportunities were not always publicized, and there was no formal protocol for releasing funds not tied to a particular organization or program. In an effort to standardize the process, the BRA has developed an application for community benefits that is publicly available.
“This new application process will give the South Boston community equal access and opportunity to grant money resulting from new development in and around their neighborhood,” said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “I am proud that this process continues our commitment to transparency, accessibility and streamlining city government by modernizing the application process.”
“This is another example of our continued commitment to promoting transparency and accountability in all that we do as an organization,” said BRA Director Brian Golden. “South Boston has seen a flurry of exciting development activity in recent years, and it’s important to us that the community as a whole benefits from the positive impacts of these projects.”
The D Street Hotel project is being constructed on land owned by the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority (MCCA). State Senator Linda Dorcena Forry, Representative Nick Collins, and City Councilors Bill Linehan and Michael Flaherty were instrumental in working with the community, the Mayor’s administration, the MCCA, and the BRA to negotiate the benefits agreement.