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 more 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 RFPs for the Main Street EMS Station and the Building 108 Power Plant to re-start the process after rejecting responses earlier in the year due to inadequate plans for Diversity & Inclusion.

The BPDA’s Devin Quirk and Project Manager Reay Pannesi said that the RFP processes that began earlier this year for the Main Street EMS facility and Building 108 Power Plant in the Navy Yard will be restarted due to inadequate plans for Diversity & Inclusion.

“We wanted to see a lot more detail and this RFP (on Main Street) 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 said that Building 108, and also an RFP for parkland in the South End, fell into the same category as Main Street. The Main Street proposal was to work with a developer – who was the lone respondent – to build out a shell for a two-bay ambulance station on a proposed development site at the corner of Main Street and Bunker Hill Street. Already, a temporary ambulance station sits there, but by working with the developer, it was hoped a permanent structure could be built and turned over to Boston EMS. The long-awaited Building 108 had been tagged for parking or some other type of development on what is a very contaminated piece of former Navy property. However, it too didn’t show enough details about how it would include women and minority-owned businesses in the project.

“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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