Solving Cities

Unique public-private partnership will rebuild downtown Mass. city

Unique public-private partnership will rebuild downtown Mass. city

Posting in Cities

Cash-strapped Quincy, Mass. has entered into a partnership with a private builder to help overhaul their downtown.

How can cities that are struggling financially revitalize their urban core?

Quincy, Mass., a city of 91,000, is entering into a unique public-private partnership that will help the city completely reconstruct their 50 acre urban center by adding $289 million of infrastructure and $1.3 billion of private housing, retail, office, and other spaces.

The New York Times reports that a private builder, Street-Works Development will foot the bill upfront for the public improvements.

Once Street-Works installs the utilities, roadways, parking and landscaping; builds a number of new buildings and leases 50 to 75 percent of the space, the city will assume responsibility for the infrastructure bill by selling general obligations bonds. Some income from the property will flow to the city to cover interest on the debt, amortize the principal and generate extra money for city coffers.

“We couldn’t afford to do this on our own, this quickly,” Mayor Thomas P. Koch said. But after 30 years of wanting to revitalize a downtown drained of businesses, shopping and housing by outlying neighborhoods, he said, “we’ve established a relationship of trust with Street-Works.”.

Of course the city is taking a risk on the project, but if it works out it would be an enormous boost to the city. It's a fascinating concept. Could this urban revival strategy be a model for other cash-strapped cities?

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Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure