BOSTON – Boston City Councilor Ed Flynn has filed a resolution this week calling for the establishment of a Blue Ribbon Commission – made up of business leaders, city and state officials, and relevant experts – to study and make recommendations regarding the issue of office vacancies in Downtown. This follows a hearing that was held last year by Councilor Flynn on bringing back all City of Boston Board meetings in-person, with a hybrid option for the public, in an effort to both bring much-needed foot traffic and economic activity downtown, and improve community engagement.

Downtown Boston is an important economic driver of our city, state, and regional economy. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, many of Boston’s neighborhoods, especially Downtown Boston and the Financial District, have been negatively impacted, with office vacancies and decreasing building values continuing to be a serious issue.

Recent analysis from brokerage firm Newmark indicated that office vacancy rate is up from 14.8% last year to 20.1% in Downtown Boston at present. With three quarters of the City of Boston’s annual budget generated from property taxes, research by the Boston Policy Institute and Tufts University’s Center for State Policy Analysis also indicated that the decreasing value of office spaces could lead to a potential shortfall of $1.2 to $1.5 billion in city revenue over the next 5 years. The same report identified remote work policies and high interest rates as having led to this dynamic, and referred to these challenges as a potential “economic act of God”. While the city has since conveyed that they have not seen any indicators from real estate markets that would lead to a revenue shortfall, they are monitoring the situation closely.

At the same time, commercial real estate executives have also sought city, state, and federal assistance to help bring more workers and foot traffic back to Downtown Boston and the Financial District. It is imperative that the city takes proactive steps and plan accordingly for all contingencies to effectively address any potential revenue shortfall in the future.

“Given the alarming reports of potentially significant budget shortfalls on the horizon, I am calling for the establishment of a Blue Ribbon Commission made up of business and labor leaders, city and state officials, real estate executives, neighborhood advocates, and other relevant experts to study the impact of office vacancies and strategize ways to fill these vacancies,” said Councilor Flynn. “A vibrant Downtown is critical to the long term prosperity of our city, and we all agree that healthy economic activity and higher foot traffic is much-needed to restore confidence and also improve public safety in the neighborhood.”

For more information, please contact Councilor Flynn’s office at 617-635-3203 and [email protected].

3 Comments

  1. Can We Have… March 7, 2024 at 3:14 pm - Reply

    …a meeting about forming a committee to hear proposals about having …a meeting?

  2. EdLogue March 8, 2024 at 4:54 pm - Reply

    the only blue ribbon in that room will be on the Pabst cans

  3. W March 11, 2024 at 4:29 pm - Reply

    Flynn is a Master Grandstander… All kinds of talk about this, or that…but no good ideas put into action

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