The Boston Planning and Development Agency board on Thursday approved James Arthur Jemison II to serve as the 21st director in the agency’s 65-year history. Jemison will also serve as the city’s inaugural chief of planning. He starts May 23.
Jemison, a longtime urban planner who worked in the late 1990s for what was then the Boston Redevelopment Authority, has most recently served as a senior official with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. Before that he served as a top development official for the city of Detroit, and previously held a series of public and private-sector jobs in housing and development in Massachusetts. He will replace Brian Golden, who resigned last month, as BPDA Director.
“With his deep experience across city, state, and federal government tackling housing instability and building more equitable communities, Arthur will help drive our agenda forward to make Boston a city for everyone,” Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said in a statement. “In this moment of urgent challenge and opportunity, Boston’s growth must reflect the possibilities for our brightest future—from affordable housing and racial equity, to climate resilience and healthy, connected communities.”
Jemison will be responsible for coordinating land use and planning across multiple city departments, including transportation, housing and schools. Wu just this week outlined a $605 million plan for 14 new school construction or renovation projects, part of a $2 billion “Green New Deal” plan for Boston Public Schools facilities. As a city councilor, she authored a plan to “abolish” the BPDA, but since winning election as mayor in November has shared few details on what, exactly, that might look like.
Also on Thursday, the BPDA board approved a 10-story lab at 80 E. Berkeley St. in the South End. The Druker Co. proposed an office there in 2013, and got city approval later that year, but never moved forward on construction. Earlier this year the developer pitched a lab at the site instead.
Other projects the BPDA board approved Thursday include 96 residential units — 64 apartments and 32 condominiums — at 2085 Washington St. in Roxbury and a 32-unit apartment building at 279 Maverick St. in East Boston.