Mayor Martin J. Walsh said Thursday he will introduce a “new era of transparency” in pursuing business growth in Boston that will require a major overhaul of its primary economic development agencies in the months ahead.
In remarks before hundreds of real estate executives, Walsh promised that his planned reforms will not interfere with a period of strong construction activity in the city, and that he will aggressively recruit new businesses and building projects.
“We will keep our economy growing,” Walsh said. “We will make Boston a leader in streamlined, transparent and effective job and business growth—from Seaport Square to Dudley Square.”
Shortly after his remarks, the Boston Redevelopment Authority Thursday night approved its first massive development under Walsh—an expansion of the Landmark Center complex near Fenway Park that will result in a Wegmans supermarket, 550 apartments, and a new public park.
The approval extends the string of large-scale developments approved in the waning months of former Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s final term in office. Without mentioning Menino by name, Walsh lauded the city’s economic growth, noting that it currently ranks fourth nationally in the amount of commercial space under construction in its downtown.
“Our economy is growing faster and more jobs are being added here in Boston than almost anywhere else in the country,” he said. “Overall we have $4.8 billion worth of projects under construction right now ... and another $2.2 billion under review, showing that the BRA is continuing to review projects and moving our city and the economy forward.”
During the mayoral campaign, Walsh was by far the most aggressive candidate in promising to reform the BRA, arguing that its process of reviewing developments needed to become more open and predictable for developers as well as ordinary residents.