CityOfBoston Official An official website of the City of Boston

This is the website for the City of Boston’s new Planning Department, which launched on July 1. The staff and many responsibilities of the Boston Planning & Development Agency have moved to the Planning Department of the City of Boston including planning & zoning, urban design, development review, and real estate divisions. Please excuse any misalignment you may see on our site as we transition to the City. Learn more

The evolution of planning in Boston has a long and complex history. In 1957 the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) was established by the Boston City Council and the Massachusetts Legislature. Its statutory authority was set forth in the Massachusetts General Laws chapter 121B, section 4. At that time the agency began overseeing development that was previously led by the Boston Housing Authority and its oversight was expanded to include development beyond public housing.

The agency's redevelopment stewardship includes the jurisdiction to buy and sell property, acquire property through eminent domain, and grant tax concession to encourage commercial and residential development under Massachusetts General Laws chapter 121A.

In 1960 by another act of the Massachusetts Legislature set forth in the Massachusetts General Laws chapter 652, section 12, the City Planning Board was merged with the BRA.

The Economic Development and Industrial Corporation (EDIC) was established by the Massachusetts Legislature and set forth in Chapter 1097 of the Acts of 1971. The EDIC is a quasi-public entity that leads local economic development activities at industrial and manufacturing properties in Boston, including the Raymond L. Flynn Marine Park (formerly known as the Boston Marine Industrial Park) and Charlestown Navy Yard, in accordance with an economic development plan. The work is designed to increase employment, eliminate decadent and blighted open areas, attract new industry, expand existing industry, and create jobs and business opportunities.

The Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) and the Economic Development and Industrial Corporation (EDIC) did business as a single citywide development agency beginning in 1993. They continue to maintain their separate functions as established by the Massachusetts Legislature.

In 2016, Mayor Martin J. Walsh rebranded the BRA and EDIC as one entity doing business as the BPDA. This effort included substantive public engagement to re-envision the agency’s identity, prioritizing transparency, livability, connection, and sustainability in planning for the future.

In 2024, Mayor Michelle Wu filed an ordinance with the Boston City Council to establish a Planning Department in the City of Boston for the first time in 70 years. The ordinance restored planning as a core function of City government, ensuring its inclusion in the City’s budget and City Council oversight, and allowed for the transfer of staff from the Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) to the Planning Department.

Directors of the BRA
Name Appointed Ended
Kane Simonian 1957 10/20/1960
Edward J. Logue 10/20/1960 8/4/1967
Francis X. Cuddy 8/4/1967 1/15/1968
C. Hale Champion 1/15/1968 8/31/1969
John D. Warner 9/1/1969 1/6/1971
Robert T. Kenney 1/25/1971 1/1/1977
Robert F. Walsh 1/1/1977 7/21/1978
Robert J. Ryan 9/1/1978 7/16/1984
Stephen Coyle 7/16/1984 1/23/1992
Theodore S. Chandler* 1/24/1992 8/23/1992
Paul L. Barrett 8/24/1992 2/1/1994
Paul L. McCann* 2/4/1994 2/27/1994
Marisa Lago 2/28/1994 1/2/1997
Paul L. McCann* 12/19/1996 3/26/1997
Thomas N. O’Brien 3/27/1997 10/14/1999
Paul L. McCann* 10/15/1999 2/21/2000
Mark Maloney 2/22/2000 1/12/2007
Paul L. McCann* 1/12/2007 11/12/2007
John F. Palmieri 11/12/2007 5/1/2011
Peter Meade 5/9/2011 1/6/2014
Brian P. Golden 1/6/2014 5/2/2022
Teresa Polhemus* 5/2/2022 5/23/2022
James Arthur Jemison II
(City of Boston Chief of Planning and Director)
5/23/2022 Present
*Acting Director