No Turkeys Here

Banker & Tradesman’s “Turkey Hunt” column (September 20) unfairly took aim at some of the city’s most innovative real estate projects. The premise was that too many development projects have languished over the years because of “do-nothing” developers whose approvals should be “terminated” by the city to allow other developers a chance to build in Boston.

I think we need to set the record straight about permitting and developing in Boston.

First, permitting is a lengthy process for major projects – from land acquisition, feasibility studies, and discussions with the BRA, to endless meetings with neighborhood groups, and renegotiating the design proposal… all before the formal permitting process can begin. Then there is the city’s Article 80 process and the state’s permitting and MEPA review. 

Many years of negotiation and planning are required before a developer can get to a final approval. Because the process takes so long, a developer cannot know if there will be a market for their project when they finally get the necessary permits. That reality can cause serious delays. The recent credit crisis freezing projects all over the country for the past two years is proof of this. 

These are not “do-nothing” developers.  These investors want to move forward, but they can’t without financing and a ready and willing market.  No developer can avoid market realities.

The good news is that, as a result of the Permit Extension Act, many projects will now be able to maintain their permits so they will be “shovel-ready” when the market improves – avoiding another 5-7 years spent reapplying for permits and missing another market cycle.

As any good hunter knows, before you start hunting for turkeys you better know what you’re looking for.

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