Incentive zoning and environmental quality in Boston's Fenway neighborhood
Author(s)DeFlorio, Joshua (Joshua C.)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning.
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A density bonus, also called incentive zoning, is a conditional liberalization of zoning regulations, allowing a real estate development to exceed as-of-right density limits in exchange for the in-kind provision or purchase of a public amenity, often affordable housing or public open space. I explore employing LEED certification, an increasingly well-known proxy for environmental quality, as the density bonus amenity. In theory, the idea is to link profitable real estate development with environmental sustainability. In practice, my primary interest is in the tradeoffs between the perceived burdens of greater density and the potential benefits of enhanced environmental quality. I begin by examining the economic, public policy, and legal underpinnings of the density bonus idea, followed by a consideration of bonus calibration methods in current use, and determine that none adequately accounts for the public's valuation of density bonus amenities. In response, I explore the applicability of public valuation methods employed in the fields of environmental and real estate economics, before turning to scholarship on public participation for guidance. In the second section, with the fundamentals of incentive zoning better defined, I add LEED to the mix.(cont.) Employing LEED as a bonus amenity/public benefit has the potential to yield, I argue, a closer alignment of the benefits and burdens of development by reducing the local, regional, and global environmental impacts of buildings. This promise, however, is realizable only with an appropriate deliberative process. To place my proposal in context, as well as introduce some of the many real world difficulties it would undoubtedly encounter, I examine a hypothetical LEED Density Bonus tailored to Boston's Fenway neighborhood and Boston's existing zoning and development review procedures. My specific target is the under-utilized, auto-oriented upper Boylston Street corridor, which has long been viewed as a planning challenge by the city and a burden by the adjacent Fenway neighborhood. I conclude by visually simulating the build-out of three different LEED bonus scenarios on Boylston Street.
Thesis (M.C.P.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning, 2007.This electronic version was submitted by the student author. The certified thesis is available in the Institute Archives and Special Collections.Includes bibliographical references.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Urban Studies and Planning.