BPDA to Developers: We are Taking Diversity and Inclusion seriously

The Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) is sending a message this month to the development community and to residents that it plans to take a serious approach to Diversity & Inclusion when evaluating proposals for City-owned parcels – and they have taken action on that warning already.

On Thursday, the BPDA Board will be set to re-issue an RFP for 142 Shawmut St. in the South End and re-start the process to create a new park space in the New York Streets area – all because the responding developer did not identify any specific diversity and inclusion plans for minority or women-owned businesses.

That RFP will join two others in Charlestown that were stopped this year, and will also be likely re-issued by the Board on Thursday in what is a message to developers across the City that the 2018 order by Mayor Martin Walsh carries heavy weight.

The BPDA’s Devin Quirk and Project Manager Reay Pannesi said that the RFP processes that began earlier this year will need to have more details and a specific plan. The responder, The Druker Company that owns an adjacent undeveloped parcel, put in a proposal to create a park on the lot. The proposal didn’t specifically commit to working with any women or minority owned businesses, but was willing to do so.

“We wanted to see a lot more detail and these RFPs fell into this category,” said Quirk. “They didn’t get into a lot of detail we wanted to see…It’s not that the proposal was so bad, but that it lacked specifics. It had a good value statement, but that’s not enough.”

He and Pannesi said the willingness was there, and value statements were included, but that no longer is enough.

“They had great value statements on it, but didn’t show details,” said Quirk. “This is a good time to tell the development community in Boston Diversity & Inclusion is very important and we want to see results. Value statements aren’t enough and we want detailed plans about outreach to women and minority businesses…You have to now actually show some results. The community needs to know we’re advocating for them and the development community needs to know we’re very serious about this.”

Pannesi said they are happy to be moving forward on all three, and they expect the Board to approve the RFPs. They also expect those that responded originally to once-again submit responses, but the hope is there will be more thought given to Diversity & Inclusion on these publicly-owned lands.

Quirk said moving forward that Diversity & Inclusion plans would account for 25 percent of the evaluation of any sale of BPDA land.

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