Arthur Jemison approved as new BPDA director

Arthur Jemison will become director of the Boston Planning and Development Agency on May 23, as the agency’s board of directors voted him into the post during its May meeting.

Jemison – a former U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development official whose decades in private and public housing work included stretches in Boston, Detroit, and Washington D.C. ¬– is also Boston’s inaugural Chief of Planning. Mayor Michelle Wu selected Jemison to oversee comprehensive planning for the city and a structural reimagining of its development agency, the BPDA.

He is hoping to work with Bostonians “to shape an agency that’s building trust through dialogue and helps create a better and brighter future for everyone.”

According to the terms of Jemison’s dual appointment, he will receive his $179,000 annual salary and benefits only through the City of Boston as planning chief, not through the BPDA as director. Cooperation agreements will be signed between the agency and the city, as well as the agency and Jemison.

Former director Brian Golden, the longest-serving chief of the BPDA (formerly known as the Boston Redevelopment Authority), announced his resignation last month. Under the terms of a separation agreement first reported by CommonWealth Magazine, Golden voluntarily resigned and received $200,000 and acknowledgment of “commendable service.”

Read more: Arthur Jemison to be appointed city planning chief

BPDA board chair Priscilla Rojas congratulated Jemison on the post and welcomed him back to Boston. She applauded his “commitment to your craft in building the expertise needed to navigate the complex and multifaceted challenges that come with creating private-public partnerships to build an equitable place to live, work and connect.”

In remarks following the board approval, Jemison thanked his new colleagues for their “forbearance” during the somewhat “unusual” hiring and appointment process.

“The board and the team at the BPDA have done so much over the past several years to improve the way that planning and development is done in the city,” Jemison said. “And you’ve given me a great platform to build from. I can’t wait to work together with you.”

Jemison said he has spent the past few weeks doing listening tours with BPDA staff and other stakeholders. When Wu selected him, Jemsion said, she “was clear she wanted to elevate planning and integrate it with other city departments.”

He ended on notes to key communities. “While changes may be coming and recognizing that they will happen over time,” he told BPDA staff, “the many day-to-day functions of planning and development in the city are only possible because of your hard work and dedication.”

To developers and businesses, Jemison said, their work is the “backbone of the city’s economy. I want to work with you to make the work you do more predictable, through thoughtful, community-based planning that shares the benefits of development equitably across the city.”


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