Lowell Richards, Chief Development Officer for the Massachusetts Port Authority, died suddenly this past weekend. This tragic loss is very hard to grasp for many of us that knew him as an energized, dedicated, well-liked advocate and friend, committed to public service throughout his life.
It is very difficult to know the extent of Lowell’s involvement in economic development in Boston and throughout the Commonwealth. He was not a “grand-stander,” preferring to work quietly behind the scenes making things happen, giving others the spotlight. Lowell enjoyed solving problems, and in development and in politics, there are plenty. The advantages that Lowell brought to the table were his deep understanding of the complex political environment, a clear focus on the public policy objectives, a keen mind regarding finances, and the negotiation skills needed to close the deal.
Lowell graduated from Dartmouth College in 1969, earned a Master’s in City Planning from MIT in 1971, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He began his distinguished career as a college intern at the Boston Redevelopment Authority.
Within Mayor Kevin White’s administration from 1976 to 1984, Lowell served as Collector-Treasurer, and then Deputy Mayor for Fiscal Affairs. (Just last week, he served as a part of the honor guard during the memorial services for Mayor White.)
Lowell’s private sector experience included senior responsibilities at Cabot, Cabot & Forbes, the commercial real estate development company based in Boston.
From 1994 to 1999, under Governor William Weld, Lowell served as Assistant Secretary for Capital Resources of the Executive Office of Administration and Finance, and then Chief Development Officer for the Commonwealth.
He joined Massport in 1999, where he ultimately became the agency’s Chief Development Officer. There, he was responsible for its agency-wide strategic and master planning activities, including the airports and the seaport, as well as Massport’s private commercial and residential real estate development in South Boston, East Boston, and Charlestown.
Under his direction, Massport received MEPA certification for the Commonwealth Flats Development Area (including the newly designated Boston Innovation District), authorizing development of over 3 million square feet of hotel, office, retail and residential development. During his tenure, construction commenced on over 3 million square feet of maritime industrial, commercial office and apartment development on Massport property leased to developers. He also directed third party development at Massport’s three airports.
Lowell had many friends who are now stunned by his departure. It’s hard to imagine this city without him, but we are fortunate that he left an indelible mark on Boston. His presence will remain with us as we travel through this great city each day.