The mayor of Boston has an open door policy to real estate developers. Not Michelle Wu.

In addition, Wu has seen many high-profile ribbon-cutting and ribbon-cutting events, including the opening of Amazon’s new building in the Seaport District in June and an event celebrating the deck a few days later, a bread-and-butter event for its predecessor. I especially miss the landmark ceremony.Set up offices and labs above the Turnpike, Massachusetts tower, hotel. Governor Charlie Baker attended both events.

Erin O’Brien, a professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts Boston, said developers “used to have the best seats at the table, but now they’re just sitting at the table. It’s a change for them.” It is.” She said, “The fact that they’re complaining shows that the power dynamics in Boston are changing, and that’s what Michelle Wu’s coalition wanted.”

In fact, Wu adhered to the populist agenda and won her by a landslide. It’s a community group, not a business interest. It’s a rebalance of power with the city’s first-ever election of a woman, a person of color, and a millennial mayor.and developers are worried Wu has set out to deliver on the campaign’s promise to blow up the city’s development process, raise rents, and extract more affordable housing finance from big builders.

How Wu treats developers is also a window into how Wu manages. In an interview, Wu said he believed the city government could be more effective if it empowered cabinet secretaries and department heads, praising the enabling approach. Her administration has launched new initiatives in areas such as child care, climate resilience and downtown revitalization.

“There are so many empowered leaders working on this task within the City Hall organization, but there is only one at the top, which is the bottleneck that approves all decisions. ‘ she said.

Wu admits it took a long time to fill key posts in the administration. This was largely due to his shortened two-week transition period from election day to inauguration.

“From the beginning, my focus was on building a team at City Hall so that we could work with members of the community to get as much done as possible,” she added. rice field. “That meant she couldn’t attend all the meetings I wanted, especially the one-on-one meetings.”

Mayor Michelle Wu, who took a selfie with former mayors Kim Jenny and Martin J. Walsh at the Boston Marathon in April, has far less ties to Boston’s strong development community than her predecessors.
Jessica Rinaldi/Glovestaff

Similarly, Wu noted that June was a particularly busy month for her administration, as it prevented her from attending high-profile real estate events.

Still, with most of her cabinet positions already filled, especially Boston Public Schools superintendent, police commissioner, and director of the Boston Planning and Development Authority, Wu hopes her calendar will be freed up. He said that he was

“As our team solidifies, I can devote more time to these meetings and appearances,” she said.

However, developers should not expect to return to business as usual.

They have built a relationship with the mayor over the years. There is a reason. City Hall approval is required to start the project.And other mayors partially oblige Because new buildings bring income to the city budget. Property taxes account for nearly three-quarters of the city’s revenue. It’s one-fifth of what it was 20 years ago, mostly due to taxes on “commercial, industrial and personal property” rather than residential.

Menino enjoys influence over developers and is famous for taking a hands-on approach to real estate projects, pondering details such as what the top of a Back Bay skyscraper should look like. .

Walsh was less involved than Menino, Instead, it delegates the job of managing a massive building boom to modified buildings. Renamed to BPDA. But as a former construction union leader, Walsh understood. He knew what development meant for jobs and Boston’s economy, and was known in the real estate world for meeting with developers.

When Jenny became Acting Mayor after Walsh became U.S. Secretary of Labor Last year, she also maintained an open-door policy for developers. When she ran for mayor, prominent developers and real estate attorneys joined her campaign finance committee.

Wu was a city councilor for many years before being elected mayor, but was not known to have particularly close ties to the downtown business community. Last year’s wide-open primaries.

With Wu in charge of city hall, developers should expect their first meeting with Arthur Jemison, who took over as both Chief Planner and BPDA Director in late May.Wu introduced Jemison to dozens of developers Some say they’ve met him privately since, at a gathering at the city-owned Parkman House in April. We are concerned about the decline in personnel. More than 100 people have left the BPDA since 2020, and many positions remain vacant.

After months of stalemate, Mayor Michelle Wu helped negotiate an agreement between Harvard University and Allston community groups, leading to Phase 1 approval of the nearby Harvard Enterprise Research Campus. I was.David L. Ryan/Glovestaff

“I’ve never met anyone who didn’t want her success,” said longtime Boston real estate attorney and former city councilman Larry DiCara. “But she probably spends less time talking to business her leaders than many of her predecessors.”

The issue of Mr. Wu’s relationship with the business community was addressed at a recent meeting of the Executive Committee of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. Jim Rooney, chief executive of the Chamber of Commerce, said he frequently talks with the mayor on issues such as the revitalization of her school and downtown, but other leaders are struggling to understand how to work with her. are struggling with

“They’re still figuring out how to deal with City Hall. That’s the stage we’re in,” Rooney said. “We all have to practice the art of being patient and impatient.”

Developer Richard Taylor says members of the business community are experiencing a bit of culture shock.

“The business community, especially the real estate industry, recognizes that this is different and will align our ideas on how to work with City Hall,” said Taylor, who is developing and bidding on city-owned land in Roxbury’s Nubian Square. I need it,” he said. On another city-owned lot in Roxbury.

As State Street CEO and Chamber of Commerce Chairman Ron O’Hanley points out, the business community ultimately needs the mayor’s support and vice versa.

“If she doesn’t succeed, the region won’t succeed,” O’Hanley said. “She believes she has a great influence, and she believes it is the duty of all of us to work with her.”

Developers may feel uncomfortable with Wu, but community leaders and activists have a different story.

Take Wu’s negotiations on Harvard’s large-scale commercial development plan in Allston. To address concerns from neighbors, Wu has suspended a city review of a mixed-use complex proposed by New York-based real estate giant Tishman Speyer on Harvard University’s land.

She met with developers and university representatives, along with local politicians. Wu met at city hall in June to broker peace as Harvard and Tishman Speyer proposed mitigation measures, more affordable housing, more master planning, and neighbors kept vigilant. was hosted by

Tony D’Isidoro, president of the Allston Civic Association, said Wu spoke first and then Jemison. D’Isidoro was then given the opportunity to speak with two neighborhood activists in front of Harvard University or Developer.

“I think it sent a message to Harvard and Tishman Speyer,” DiCidro said.

In fact, Wu called D’Isidoro just days before the BPDA approved the first phase of the project in July to make sure he was okay.

For State Rep. Mike Moran, a Wu supporter representing Allston, the meeting was a meeting of all major stakeholders (Harvard and developers, as well as Allston-Brighton groups and local elected officials). It was a watershed moment as the officials gathered around the table.

“Never . . . until Michelle Wu,” said Moran.

He added that the approach shouldn’t surprise anyone. Wu ran as a reformist.

“I don’t necessarily think she’s anti-business,” Moran said. “Now there’s another way to do business.”

Shirley Leung is a business columnist. Her contact is her [email protected]. Jon Chesto can be reached at [email protected]. follow him on twitter @John ChestCatherine Carlock can be reached at [email protected]. follow her on her twitter @bycatcarlock.

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