News & Updates

BRA hires Edward O’Donnell as new Director of Real Estate

Dec 07, 2015

O’Donnell brings wealth of experience to help professionalize BRA’s real estate management
Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) Director Brian Golden today announced the hire of Edward O’Donnell as the agency’s new Director of Real Estate. Mr. O’Donnell, who most recently served as Director of Economic Development for the City of Somerville, is an accomplished professional with over 30 years of experience in the industry, including an eight year stint with the BRA during the 1990s. His hire marks another important step in the continued reforms that Mayor Martin J. Walsh and Director Golden have led at the BRA over the past two years. Mr. O’Donnell will manage the disposition, sale, and leasing of over 16 million square feet of property that the BRA owns in an effort to optimize the agency’s real estate portfolio and generate new revenue opportunities.

“As change continues at the BRA, I look forward to having Ed O'Donnell bring his experience and fresh perspective to this role,” said Mayor Walsh. "We aim to continue strengthening this agency by promoting efficiency and effectiveness, and I am confident that Ed’s background will complement our efforts and add to the dynamic leadership needed to take Boston's real estate to the next level." 

“Based on our internal reviews and the independent analyses we have commissioned since January 2014, it is abundantly clear that we must do a better job of making the most of our real estate assets,” said Director Golden. “We’ve made significant progress this year by securing redevelopment deals for three key parcels in the Marine Industrial Park, and Ed will be able to draw on his robust knowledge to build on this momentum. Optimizing our land and property holdings is one of our biggest priorities, not only for the value they generate for the BRA but, more importantly, for the people of Boston.”

In Somerville, Mr. O’Donnell successfully directed a nationwide search and public engagement process to secure a master development partner for the planning and eventual build out of more than two million square feet of transit oriented development in Union Square. He helped to attract and expand Greentown Labs, the area’s largest clean tech incubator, after the collection of energy start-up companies outgrew space in Boston’s Fort Point neighborhood. Mr. O’Donnell also helped bring collaborative work space to Davis Square and oversaw the continued growth of Assembly Row, where Partners HealthCare is building nearly one million square feet of new office space.

“I’m honored and gratified by the confidence that Mayor Walsh and Director Golden have shown by offering me the newly created Director of Real Estate position,” said Mr. O’Donnell. “My approach to the job is grounded in the fact that the real estate holdings of the BRA are assets, and they need to be managed productively, whether to provide new employment opportunities, new housing, or other uses. Our goal is to ensure that these assets reach their full potential, and I look forward to leading and contributing to this work with the team.”

The BRA relies heavily on the leasing of properties to generate much of its revenue, and Mr. O’Donnell will create a team to maximize the value of these assets. An independent operational review of the agency that was released last summer suggests that there is 10 to 12 million square feet of undeveloped land and buildings that could generate millions of dollars in new revenue for the BRA. Developing an accurate inventory of all properties will be among the first priorities for Mr. O’Donnell when he assumes his new role in early January.

At nearly 200 acres, the Boston Marine Industrial Park is by far the authority’s largest collection of properties, and several sites are primed for new projects thanks to agreements with developers that are currently in the works. A 405 room hotel is planned for a parcel off of Summer Street, and in May the BRA board of directors tentatively designated Skanska to construct 215,000 square feet of office and retail space on an adjacent parcel. Just last month, Cannistraro, a Watertown-based provider of plumbing, fire protection, ventilation, and sheet metal pre-fabrication services, received approval from the BRA’s board to overhaul a worn industrial building at 25 Fid Kennedy Avenue in the park. Mr. O’Donnell will help shepherd these projects and create new opportunities for redevelopment.

As Director of Real Estate, Mr. O’Donnell will also work with the BRA’s leadership to improve transparency over asset management, with the goal of creating a publicly accessible and regularly updated report about the agency’s holdings.

Mr. O’Donnell resides with his wife and family in West Roxbury. He is a homeowner and lifelong resident of the neighborhood.

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