Brian Golden Leaving BPDA as Director

Special to the Times-Free Press

Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) Director Brian Golden announced that he will conclude his tenure after serving for more than eight years as the chief executive of the agency. As the BPDA’s chief executive, Golden has managed the biggest building boom in Boston’s history, while ushering in holistic reforms that have improved how the agency supports the residents of Boston. He focused on improving transparency, accountability, and community engagement, while furthering equitable outcomes throughout Boston’s neighborhoods. As Director, Golden led an intensive operational reform effort over multiple years and rebranded the agency from the former Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) to the Boston Planning and Development Agency to better reflect the agency’s mission. 

“The Board has seen first hand the instrumental work Brian has led to support economic development and new housing opportunities that lift up our communities,  while creating a more transparent, accountable BPDA that better serves the people of Boston,” said BPDA Board Chair Priscilla Rojas. “On behalf of the Board, I thank Brian for his many years of service to our city and wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors.” 

“During my time on the Board I have witnessed the transformative impact of Brian’s leadership to create long lasting positive changes that are improving our neighborhoods by creating more opportunities for Boston residents to succeed, and stabilizing Boston’s finances through increased tax revenues,” said Dr. Ted Landsmark, BPDA Board Member. “I thank Brian for not only his leadership at the BPDA, but his friendship, and am grateful for his commitment to creating a stronger, more resilient Boston for generations to come.”

Appointed as Executive Director/Secretary in 2009 by Mayor Thomas M. Menino, and permanent Director by Mayor Martin J. Walsh in 2014, Golden is the longest serving leader in the agency’s 65-year history. Over the past eight years, he has steered more than 90 million square feet of development approvals through the BPDA’s permitting process. This total reflects approximately 49 million square feet of residential development, as well as 32 million square feet of commercial, institutional, life science, hotel, retail, and industrial development. These projects represent approximately $43 billion of investment. The approvals include approximately 46,000 new housing units, nearly 11,000 of which are designated as income-restricted and available at below market rates. These developments support over 80,000 permanent jobs, over 90,000 construction jobs, and 46,000 additional induced (indirect) jobs. Since 2019, over 20 percent of new housing units approved each year have been income-restricted; over 35 percent of units approved in 2021 were income-restricted. Boston has a higher percentage of income-restricted affordable housing than any other city in America.

Golden grew the BPDA’s planning capacity, dedicating the resources and personnel necessary to complete the first general city plan since 1965, Imagine Boston 2030, which the BPDA board formally adopted in 2017. He also initiated a variety of community planning efforts in Roxbury, East Boston, Allston-Brighton, Jamaica Plain, Dorchester, South Boston, Mattapan, Newmarket, Downtown (including the Municipal Harbor Plan), and the Raymond L. Flynn Marine Park (Master Plan Update). Many of these plans seek to nurture Boston as one of the world’s great life science clusters by creating a framework for increasing the number of facilities for life science uses. Since 2014, the BPDA has planned over 14 square miles, representing almost 30 percent of Boston’s land mass. During this time, the BPDA planning department has added over 24 new staff members and hosted an average of 80 in-depth community engagements a year. 

As Director, Golden has managed over 20 million square feet of BPDA-owned property, prioritizing public land for public good. Among its assets, the BPDA owns and operates the Raymond L. Flynn Marine Park (RLFMP) in South Boston, whose tenants employ more than 4,500 people, and much of the Charlestown Navy Yard. Golden has transformed the public disposition process for BPDA-owned land, adopting a transparent, accessible approach that emphasizes thorough community input. In 2018, the BPDA also adopted diversity criteria for all Requests for Proposals (RFPs) for public land. This criteria requires those seeking to develop BPDA land to first explain how a proposed project advances equity and benefits diverse constituencies. Since then, the BPDA has released over 16 RFPs and designated ten development projects meeting the diversity criteria. These include the Blair Lot, Parcel 8, and the Crescent Parcel in Nubian Square, as well as 24 Drydock and Parcel M in the RLFMP, and Building 108 in the Charlestown Navy Yard.  Golden launched an RFP in 2021 to seek a developer for the BPDA- owned seven acre Parcel P3 in Roxbury, and responses are currently under review. 

In 2020, Golden announced the creation of the first ever Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ODEI). Today that office is led by a Director of DEI and supported by a team of community engagement managers. ODEI has led the implementation of the BPDA’s first Language Access Plan, formally adopted in 2021, to ensure that non-English speaking residents can participate in the BPDA’s work in a meaningful way. 

In addition, Golden has overseen the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development (OWD) which supports Boston residents through job training, educational opportunities (such as free community college), and financial empowerment programming. Since 2014, OWD has trained approximately 40,000 individual Bostonians, with funding provided primarily through commercial development linkage payments. 

In recent years, Golden has promoted transformational policy changes that put Boston at the forefront of addressing major challenges that cities are facing in the twenty-first century. His efforts have positioned Boston as the leader in fair housing practices by becoming the first city to place Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) requirements into its zoning code. This innovative policy seeks to address effects of past racial bias in housing.  Golden also required new development and retrofits to prepare for the impacts of coastal storms and sea level rise, going beyond more limited areas identified by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). He promoted zoning code provisions that eliminated off-street parking minimums for affordable housing, thereby streamlining the process for the approval of needed affordable housing while supporting climate goals and reducing traffic congestion. 

Last month, the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize announced that Boston was being honored as a Special Mention for the 2020 World City Prize, based on the city’s holistic work on climate resilience, improving housing affordability and mobility options, and fostering civic participation. Boston was the only city in the United States honored in the 2020 prize cycle. Boston’s submission was led by Golden and BPDA staff, which hosted the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize nominating committee for a visit in 2019 with City of Boston agencies, non-profit organizations, institutions, business leaders, and community stakeholders. In 2020, the American Planning Association (APA) honored Boston with an Excellence in Sustainability Award for its Coastal Flood Resilience Design Guidelines. Those guidelines became the basis for recently codified Coastal Flood Resilience Zoning Overlay District (CFRZOD). 

An attorney since 1993, Golden is a former member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, where he served the Allston-Brighton neighborhood of Boston. He was also the New England Regional Director at the US Department of Health and Human Services, a Commissioner at the Massachusetts Department of Telecommunications and Energy, and a member of the Board of Directors at the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston. Golden has served as a US Army officer, active duty and reserve, for more than 25 years. His military experience includes duty in Bosnia, Iraq, and Israel/West Bank. Golden is a graduate of the Boston Latin School and Harvard College. He received a Master’s degree from the US Army War College and a law degree from the College of William and Mary’s School of Law. Golden will continue to serve as Director through the end of the month. 

As the City of Boston’s urban planning and economic development agency, the BPDA works in partnership with the community to plan Boston’s future while respecting its past. The agency’s passionate and knowledgeable staff guides physical, social, and economic change in Boston’s neighborhoods and its downtown to shape a more prosperous, resilient, and vibrant city for all. The BPDA also prepares residents for new opportunities through employment training, human services and job creation. Learn more at, and follow us on Twitter @BostonPlans.

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