Boston launches public website to track development on city-owned parcels
If you have ever wanted to bend the city’s ear about its property management skills, here is your chance.
Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development has launched an online map that allows residents to post comments and track the progress of building projects on its 1,300 parcels across the city.
The map, created in partnership with the high tech startup coUrbanize, is part of a broader push by Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s administration to redevelop city-owned land and involve the public in conversations about building plans.
“This allows us to be more efficient and to hear from neighborhoods about what they like and what they may not like about these projects,” said Sheila Dillon, the mayor’s housing chief.
Dillon is also spearheading plans to build housing for middle-income residents on 250 properties owned by her department. She said those sites will accommodate about 400 new ownership units in outlying neighborhoods such as Dorchester, Jamaica Plain, and Hyde Park.
That is a tiny fraction of the 20,000 moderately-priced homes the mayor is hoping to build by 2030. In his recent State of the City speech, Walsh called on the state Legislature to pass bills that will create tax incentives for middle-income housing and allocate more funding to develop homes for low-income seniors.
Under the mayor’s plans, the Department of Neighborhood Development will play a major role putting more public property into productive use. So far, its new online map lists 87 active development projects, ranging from individual home sites to the Parcel 24 project in Chinatown, which will create 95 affordable rentals and 10 units for the homeless.
The map includes project descriptions and renderings, as well as a comment feature that allows neighbors to express opinions about building plans. Each person who posts a comment is required to submit a name and an e-mail address to participate.
To encourage a polite exchange of ideas, coUrbanize has posted a code of conduct on the site that asks participants to be constructive and avoid using profanity or posting vulgar or abusive content.