Public Approvals for Private Development Projects

The course\’s principal objective is to provide a conceptual framework for understanding the interplay of private property protections and regulatory programs on privately sponsored development projects. Projects undertaken by market oriented developers and mission-driven non-profit institutions are a major force in shaping cities, and a highly evolved body of property law protects such private investment. But in addition to its benefits, private development also has broad social impacts, and an increasingly comprehensive regulatory process has arisen to protect others from these impacts. Due to their size and location, large-scale urban projects face particular public scrutiny. The public approval process often shapes these projects as much as the proponent\’s aspirations and market considerations. It has become, in many ways, the crucible in which planning issues are debated, competing interests are resolved and cities are forged, and yet it is rarely analyzed systematically. The city of Boston, with its distinct physical character, engaged citizenry, strong investment climate, and rigorous approval process, is an excellent setting to study this process. Built projects are available for evaluation and project participants are available for class visits, both of which are key parts of the course curriculum.