Jonathan Greeley Is a Man With a Plan

Boston’s director of development review, Jonathan Greeley, can see the city’s future. All he has to do is make it happen.

Photo by Pat Piasecki / Hair and makeup by Julie Silva/Anchor Artists

For the past four years, I’ve run the division of the Boston Planning and Development Agency that focuses exclusively on development, so I spend most of my time thinking about how the city grows—what goes where, how big, how small, how do we maximize investment in parks and affordable housing? Our playbook for this is something called Imagine Boston 2030—a citywide master plan—which I wrote parts of.

The city has evolved dramatically over the past 10 years, but cities are always evolving—they’re living things. About 8,000 people are moving here every year. In the next year or two we will pass 700,000 people living in the city for the first time in decades. We don’t control that flow of people, but we certainly have to respond to it.

The city is really focused on Dudley Square. We’re trying to leverage lots of publicly owned land to create new housing across income spectrums, as well as commercial development. When the city controls the land, there is more opportunity to control the outcome.

Greeley at a Glance

Grew up in: Wilbraham
Earned a master’s degree in: Urban and environmental policy and planning from Tufts University
Lived in: Medford, Quincy, Malden, and Southie before moving to the Back Bay
Favorite restaurant is: The Gallows in the South End

The planning and economic development arm of the agency is like an in-house consultancy to help advise the mayor and all of city government on a variety of real-estate-development planning decisions. Every single day, I’m having conversations with developers, corporations, community stakeholders, and elected officials about different ideas for investment in the city.

What we’re seeing at North Station is one of the most exciting developments in recent years. For a long time, people would go there for a game and maybe grab a drink and a bite. In the past decade it’s become a more complete neighborhood before our eyes.