PLAN: Downtown

Planning Update

Tuesday, July 28, 2020 marks the third anniversary of the passage of Massachusetts House Bill 3749 (2017), An Act Protecting Sunlight and Promoting Economic Development in the City of Boston. This legislation enabled the BPDA to conduct PLAN: Downtown in partnership with the community, and required that the Agency substantially complete the initiative within three years of the bill’s passage.

While the agency determines how to address PLAN: Downtown’s legislative deadline, in partnership with the community, we know it will be challenging to obtain the necessary public input before finalizing the plan by July 28.

Before the suspension of public meetings due to COVID-19, PLAN: Downtown staff were planning to host additional Advisory Group meetings before presenting a draft plan at a larger public meeting. The planning team will still host these engagement events on a delayed schedule once in-person meetings can safely resume, per public health guidance. The BPDA is currently exploring digital engagement as a way to complement this traditional in-person engagement.

We are committed to facilitating a fully transparent public process that is accessible and inclusive for all residents before developing a draft PLAN: Downtown planning report.

Study Overview | 规划:市区概况

Over the last decade, Boston’s Downtown has transformed from primarily a business district into a vibrant mixed-use neighborhood. Associated with this transformation and the marked increase in development proposals is a clear need to plan for the future of Downtown comprehensively.

Building on past studies, the primary goal of the study will be to develop a new framework for the preservation, enhancement, and growth of the Downtown area of the City of Boston, while balancing the importance of livability, daylight, walkability, climate change, access to open space, affordability, and a dynamic mix of uses, among others. As one of the most diverse places in the City, due in part to its accessibility, it is necessary to encourage growth that is inclusive for all. Supporting a thriving Downtown environment that is responsive to the 21st century needs of residents, businesses, and visitors is critical to Boston’s continued success as an important American city.

PLAN: Downtown Preliminary Study Area Boundary
Study Area Boundary
 | 研究边区位置 | Límite del Área de Estudio

Draft PLAN: Downtown Goals | 起草目标

The BPDA hosted a Vision Workshop with the Downtown & Chinatown communities to prioritize values and goals for this planning initiative. Community members who could not attend the workshop were encouraged to complete an online survey. The feedback received through the Vision Workshop, Vision Survey, along with the December Open House, two Advisory Group meetings, and various informal engagement “pop-ups” shaped the draft project goals. The draft project goals will be used to guide this planning process moving forward.

Vision: Develop a new framework for the preservation, enhancement, and growth of Downtown Boston as a place for all, balancing livability, daylight, walkability, climate change preparedness, access to open space, affordability, and a dynamic mix of uses.

Plan: Downtown will...

  1. Preserve the cultural heritage and embrace the distinctive histories present in public spaces as essential to creating a unique and cohesive Downtown.

  2. Promote dense, mixed-use development to support job growth, housing opportunities, and 18 hour/7 days/week activity for residents, workers, and visitors.

  3. Improve access to housing, cultural assets, and amenities for a diverse range of Boston residents across all neighborhoods, levels of affordability, stages of life, and backgrounds.

  4. Preserve historic building fabric and cultural institutions while advancing climate preparedness and resiliency measures.

  5. Ensure that new development and public realm projects are resilient, and mitigate climate risks such as sea level rise, coastal storms, rising temperatures, and increased stormwater.

  6. Improve connections through, within, and to Downtown, with a focus on active transportation, transit, and non-vehicular modes of transportation.

  7. Encourage consistent, safe, healthy, and high-quality improvements to the public realm that welcome everyone year-round.

  8. Support business development that maintains Downtown as a regional economic center.

  9. Promotes the retention, growth, and diversity of ground-floor retail businesses, especially legacy and small businesses.

Timeline | 时间段

PLAN: Downtown Timeline
PLAN: Downtown Timeline

Advisory Group | 顾问团

As part of the PLAN: Downtown process, the Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) sought nominations for community members to serve on an Advisory Group (AG).  Members of the AG will assist the City’s planning team in several tasks related to the initiative including:

  • Community outreach efforts
  • Reviewing the consultant’s tasks and their findings
  • Evaluating existing conditions analyses
  • Participating in the development of a vision, goals, and principles for the Future Downtown
  • Assessing development scenarios and their associated impacts
  • Proposing viable recommendations that will ultimately inform new urban design and development guidelines and potential zoning regulations

Advisory Group | 顾问团成员

Rob Adams Angie Liou
Barbara Boylan Lydia Lowe
Paul Chan Herb Lozano
George Coorssen Beatrice Nessen
Alison Frazee Mary Ann Ponti
Arturo Gossage Seth Riseman
Gilbert Ho Joyce Sanchez
Peggy Ings Rosemarie  Sansone
Jung Shen Kuo Rishi Shukla
Chuck Labins Ann Teixeira
Karen LaFrazia Theresa Tsoi
Suzanne Lavoie Tony Ursillo
Joshua Leffler Jason Wright

Ex-Offico Members

State Representative Aaron Michlewitz
State Senator Joseph Boncore
City Councilor Ed Flynn
Captain Kenneth Fong, Boston Police Department
Roger Mann, Senior Director of Real Estate at the MBTA

Upcoming Events | 社区参与规划

While public meetings for PLAN: Downtown are currently on hold per guidance issued by the City of Boston, BPDA Planning staff are continuing to prepare and review planning materials. 

During this time we recommend that stakeholders engage in the PLAN: DOwntown process through our website, where all planning study materials are posted. We also encourage the public to keep in touch with Planning staff by submitting comments directly to the PLAN: Downtown team.

For more information on the BPDA’s Public Meeting Guidelines and our COVID-19 response, please visit our website: 


Previous Events | 社区参

Scenarios Workshop | 计划:市中心方案讨论会 | January 30, 2019, at 6:00 PM

Agenda (Includes Goals) | Presentation | Reference Maps | Previous Feedback Summary

日程安排 | 演示 | 地图

The Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) with City of Boston team members invited the Downtown and Chinatown community to discuss the PLAN: Downtown development scenarios. The planning team presented an overview of current zoning, followed by two future scenario options for rethinking preservation and growth in Downtown and Chinatown. The goal of this session was for community members to help the planning team narrow down to one preferred scenario and provide input into the next round of updates to the preferred scenario.

Advisory Group Meeting #8 | 咨询小组会议#8 | December 18, 2019

Agenda | Visions, Goals Strategies | Feedback Boards

The eighth Advisory Group (AG) meeting for PLAN: Downtown was a working session focused on small group discussions and prioritizing the draft planning recommendations.

AG #7—Development Scenarios | 咨询小组会议#7 | November 20, 2019

Agenda | Presentation | Notes (forthcoming) | 日程安排 (中文) | 演示​ (中文)

If you are unable to see the animations embedded within the AG#7 Presentation then please visit the links below. The animations are for illustrative purposes only.

Current Conditions Animation | Scenario 1 Animation | Scenario 2 Animation

The seventh Advisory Group (AG) meeting for PLAN: Downtown focused on the development scenarios.

Community Priorities Workshop | 社区重点工作研讨会 | October 24, 2019

Agenda | Vision, Goals, and Strategies | Presentation | Boards | Feedback Boards

日程安排 (中文) | 起草愿景和目标 (中文) | 演示​ (中文)

The Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) in collaboration with other City of Boston departments invited the Downtown and Chinatown community to participate in the PLAN: Downtown Community Priorities Workshop. The workshop updated participants on the planning work completed to date and explored the preliminary planning recommendations and public space improvements identified by PLAN: Downtown. Themes included Growth & Preservation, Climate & Resiliency, and Mobility & Public Space. Participants aided the planning team in prioritizing the preliminary list of recommendations by geographic area, including Chinatown, Downtown Crossing, the Financial District, the Theater District, and the Wharf District.

AG #6—Community Priorities | 咨询小组会议#6 | September 25, 2019

Agenda | Presentation | Feedback | Notes日程安排 (中文) | 演示​ (中文) 

The sixth Advisory Group (AG) meeting for PLAN: Downtown focused on community priorities and draft planning recommendations.

AG #5—Mobility & Public Realm | 咨询小组会议#5 | July 17, 2019

Agenda | Presentation | Notes | 日程安排 (中文) | 演示​ (中文)

The fifth Advisory Group (AG) meeting for PLAN: Downtown focused on mobility and the public realm.

AG #4—Climate & Resiliency | 咨询小组会议#4 | June 20, 2019

Agenda | Presentation | Notes | 日程安排 (中文)演示​ (中文)

The fourth Advisory Group (AG) meeting for PLAN: Downtown focused on climate and resiliency.

AG #3—Preservation & Growth | 咨询小组会议#3 | May 22, 2019

Agenda | Presentation | Notes | 日程安排 (中文) | 演示​ (中文)

The third Advisory Group (AG) meeting focused on preservation and growth and the draft goals for PLAN: Downtown.

Vision Workshop | 愿景研讨会 | April 30, 2019

Future of Downtown Feedback | Map-based Feedback

The Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) in collaboration with other City of Boston departments invited the Downtown community to participate in the PLAN: Downtown Vision Workshop. The workshop explored and prioritized draft values & goals for this planning initiative. The event began with a brief presentation explaining the PLAN: Downtown initiative. Attendees then broke into small groups to discuss priorities for the planning initiative. Community members who could not attend the Workshop were encouraged to complete an online survey. This survey replicated some of the discussion questions from the PLAN: Downtown Vision Workshop. Responses to this survey are currently being compiled and will be shared anonymously with the Vision Workshop feedback on the project website. 

AG #2—Existing Conditions | 咨询小组会议#2 | April 24, 2019

Agenda | Presentation | Notes | 日程安排 (中文) | 演示​ (中文)

The second Advisory Group (AG) meeting for PLAN: Downtown focused on existing conditions and the character areas.

AG #1—Project Overview | 咨询小组会议#1 | March 7, 2019

Agenda | Presentation | Notes |  Advisory Group Member List | Advisory Group Roles & Responsibilities | Open House Summary Booklet

日程安排 (中文) | 演示​ (中文) | Advisory Group Member List (中文) | Advisory Group Roles & Responsibilities (中文) | Open House Summary Booklet (中文) | Open House Summary Booklet (Español)

The first Advisory Group (AG) meeting for PLAN: Downtown introduced the planning team and AG members as well as provided an update on the current status of PLAN: Downtown.

Open House & Project Kick-off | 项目启动活动及 开放日 | December 3, 2018

Presentation Boards & Gathered Feedback | Presentation | Summary Brochure | Significant Landmark & Places Feedback | Neighborhood Profiles: Downtown | Photo Slideshow of Downtown Through Time | Smart Model Demonstration

Presentation Boards & Gathered Feedback (中文) | Brochure (中文) | Significant Landmark & Places Feedback (中文) | Open House Brochure (Español)

The Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) Planning Team and other City departments kicked off the PLAN: Downtown on December 3, 2018 from 4–7 pm. The session offered opportunities for visitors to learn about the goals of the Plan, to share ideas for Downtown, and to discover how to participate in shaping the Plan’s outcomes. Over one hundred and twenty residents, workers, business and property owners, students, advocates, and other visitors interested in the future of Downtown Boston attended the Open House.

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