Unique public-private partnership will rebuild downtown Mass. city

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

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.

TheNew 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?

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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