Boston Redevelopment Authority Taps Somerville Official for Real Estate Director

Edward O'Donnell, who spent eight years at the BRA in the 90s, has it work cut out for him.

The Boston Redevelopment Authority now has a manager for the more than 16 million square feet of property in its portfolio.

The BRA announced Monday it has tapped Edward O’Donnell as its Director of Real Estate, a newly created position. O’Donnell last served as the economic development chief for the City of Somerville, where he oversaw the growth of Assembly Row, the planning of more than two million square-feet of transit-oriented development in Union Square, and the arrival of Greentown Labs, a clean tech incubator formerly of Fort Point.

Photo courtesy of Boston Redevelopment Authority

Photo courtesy of Boston Redevelopment Authority

At the BRA, O’Donnell will be tasked with inventorying the properties already in the agency’s possession, then creating a team that will wring from them every last drop of value.

“My approach to the job is grounded in the fact that the real estate holdings of the BRA are assets, and they need to be managed productively, whether to provide new employment opportunities, new housing, or other uses,” O’Donnell said in a release. “Our goal is to ensure that these assets reach their full potential, and I look forward to leading and contributing to this work with the team.”

For O’Donnell, a homeowner and lifelong resident of West Roxbury, the new job is a homecoming of sorts; he spent eight years with the BRA in the 90s.

“Based on our internal reviews and the independent analyses we have commissioned since January 2014, it is abundantly clear that we must do a better job of making the most of our real estate assets,” BRA Director Brian Golden said. “We’ve made significant progress this year by securing redevelopment deals for three key parcels in the Marine Industrial Park, and Ed will be able to draw on his robust knowledge to build on this momentum. Optimizing our land and property holdings is one of our biggest priorities, not only for the value they generate for the BRA but, more importantly, for the people of Boston.”

O’Donnell has also pledged to create a “publicly accessible and regularly updated report about the agency’s holdings.” Whatever form that takes, a little more transparency couldn’t hurt.