Our Director, Dr. Yesim Sungu-Eryilmaz, was awarded a one year grant for 2022-23 by the Boston University Initiative on Cities!

Who Benefits? The Spatial Context of Negotiated Community Benefits from Development Projects in Boston

PI: Yeşim Sungu-Eryilmaz, Assistant Professor, Department of Applied Social Sciences, Metropolitan College; Director, City Planning & Urban Affairs Program

Assistant Professor Yeşim Sungu-Eryilmaz
Assistant Professor Yeşim Sungu-Eryilmaz

Without sustainable financing mechanisms, cities in many countries have increasingly relied on tools to have the private sector provide or pay for infrastructure, community benefits, or other amenities. Known as value-capture instruments, these tools are used to capture land value increases that arise from changes to zoning or investment in public infrastructure. With a strong real estate market in its favor, Boston has been capturing community benefits from development projects. This proposed project asks three questions with the case study of Boston:

  1. To what extent do low-income and minority neighborhoods receive community benefits from large projects?
  2. Do benefits flow spatially from some locations to others?
  3. Does the Imagine Boston 2030 — Boston’s first comprehensive plan since 1965 — facilitate the types and location of these benefits?

map showing locations of large projects

This research project will use quantitative content analysis to analyze the geographic distribution of community benefits before (2014–2017) and after (2018–2021) the launch of Imagine Boston 2030, controlling for the mayoral term. This research will impact how Boston employs the practice of community benefits to improve their equitable use by providing valuable guidance for policymakers and practitioners in Boston and beyond to pursue a well-designed process and ultimately achieve equitable public infrastructure financing.

Large projects are primarily concentrated near Boston’s commercial core