Boston Redevelopment Authority Creates New Director of Real Estate Position

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The Boston Redevelopment Authority has announced the hiring of a new Director of Real Estate. The newly created position was developed in cooperation with the authority director Brian Golden and Mayor Marty Walsh in an attempt to make more money from the authority’s real estate holdings, thereby assisting both the authority and residents of Boston.

Managing BRA Property

Under his new position, O’Donnell will be in charge of monitoring the 16 million square feet of property owned by the Boston Redevelopment Authority. His duties will involve handling the disposition, leasing and sale of the property in order to optimize the agency’s real estate portfolio while also generating new revenue opportunities. O’Donnell will also work with the Boston Real Estate Authority’s leadership to help improve transparency over the agency’s asset management, which will involve creating reports that are accessible to the public.

The decision to hire O’Donnell for the position came after the agency conducted an independent analysis and internal reviews revealed that the agency needed to do a better job of monetizing its real estate assets. Over the past year, the agency has secured redevelopment deals for three parcels in the Marine Industrial Park, which consists of 200 acres. Several sites in the park are already primed for new projects, including a 405-room hotel off of Summer Street. The goal is for O’Donnell to build on this momentum to further optimize the land and property holdings while also overseeing the new developments that are already underway.

By monetizing on the property, O’Donnell hopes to generate funds that can used to create new employment opportunities, housing or other items that are needed for Boston and its residents. Currently, the BRA relies heavily on leasing its properties in order to generate revenue. O’Donnell plans to develop a team to help maximize the value of the authority’s assets. O’Donnell will also be responsible for utilizing the 10 to 12 million square feet of undeveloped land and buildings owned by the authority, thereby creating new revenue for the BRA. To accomplish this goal, one of O’Donnell’s first duties will b to develop an accurate inventory of all of the properties within the authority’s portfolio.

O’Donnell’s Background

Formerly the Director of Economic Development for the City of Somerville, O’Donnell has over 30 years of experience in the industry. Among these experiences was an eight-year stint with the Boston Redevelopment Authority in the 1990s. While in Sommerville, O’Donnell directed a nationwide search that successfully resulted in securing a master development partner. Through a process involving public engagement, O’Donnell was able to plan and build out of more than two million square feet Union Square development oriented toward transit. O’Donnell was also able to attract and expand Greentown Labs, which is the largest clean tech incubator in the area. O’Donnell was also involved in the process of bringing collaborative workspace to Davis Square as well as overseeing the growth of Assembly Row, which is where Partners HealthCare is currently building nearly one million square feet in new office space.

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