The New Balance of We the People…

One policy area I think the USA is in dire need of exploring with great earnest is the Public Private Partnership. PPP has bred some real nightmares and in my estimation that is more because the Public part of the equation isn’t paying attention. The debacle that is the Chicago’s parking meter comes to the top of the list when folks bring up the subject of PPP’s and on the international scale the “sale” and “repurchase” of the London Underground is an example on a much higher scale of order.

Toll roads,other infrastructure and research projects and the associated physical developments are all areas that have PPP’s in motion in America. Many of these deals are suspect in my opinion since I can agree with PPP’s detractors that government financing and benefits don’t match the private sectors gains in many cases. It is also to be put forth that there really should be some limits as to what is tracked toward a partnership. I think the privatization of water is a great example where government on behalf of the People need to be very vigilant.

So if some of the above are the extremes is there an example of a balance? Well, the answer to that in my opinion is a resounding YES!

New Balance which is a sport apparel company that has long been based in the Brighton section of Boston,MA has shown what a PPP should really look like.

Boston Landing

bostonlandingNew Balance will be building its new corporate headquarters. The campus like atmosphere and community integration that is seen as the exciting norm for new development for a number of reasons is in full effect here.

Retail offerings throughout the site brings a much-needed boost to an area which depending on ones civility was an area of blight or at least underserved and underutilized.

The sports complex has signed a contract with the Boston Bruins of the NHL for use as a practice facility. The stability and draw of this magnitude is exactly the kind of thing developments need. In retail they call them anchors and the term fits well.

Office space and a 175 room boutique style hotel add a level of community stability as well. These spaces will be integrated into the general community and should become part of the local flavor. Not to cheapen it in any way but when completed we’re really talking about a new and inclusive neighborhood.

The coup de grâce as far as PPP goes is New Balances construction of a new MBTA Commuter Rail station. The T is so fiscally strapped and managerial f#$&ed up there is zero way it could pony up a station. New Balance stepping up not only benefits the company but the city as well. It is a fact that public transportation especially in the urban setting stimulates the overall economy and quality of life standards of an area.

PPP in the Boston Landing setting has the balance I think should be embraced. Government acting as a regulatory and liaison entity and the private sector putting its money and morality where its mouth is. In the end what should come out of this is a mutually beneficial development and that is a good thing.




  1. thorsaurus says:

    Alfie, this looks very promising. I think part of the problem with PPPs is how they are structured. Who pays for the inevitable cost over runs? We had one here where the public was left holding the entire bag. Yes, the people that approved it got voted out, but their worries were over at that point. The lawsuits and the bills lasted through two more administrations. Very costly for taxpayers.
    The other caution I would offer would be the “mission” of the project. If there are true needs being met, this can go a long way in ensuring the success of the project. This NB campus seems uniquely “Boston” and I think that bodes well for it. Is it meeting with any gentrification protests?

  2. Alfie says:

    Everything I’ve seen speaks to how open and engaged NB has been with the community at large. This really is turning a nothing into quite a bit of something.
    I imagine I could find some chatter on how there is no affordable housing happening at the site. The thing there though is the Boston access in general as well as the Boston College / Boston University near by location of this project “affordable” has a weird definition. The supermarket is a huge plus.
    As I conceded PPP’s can be really negative especially when plotted out along greed lines. Europe has a better history with them. This project is a balanced one I think will prove a good one.
    Thanks for stopping by.

  3. thorsaurus says:

    The pleasure was mine. I love learning about the dynamics of other locales. I only know two people that have lived in Boston, one a cousin that transplanted there from Minnesota. I believe he works for GE. The other left there in the Navy and never went back.

    I believe the anchor you speak of has to have a unique twist for the culture of the town. Getting the Bruins was a real coup. Whoever got that done has a bright future in business or politics, or both.

    Looking forward to your next.

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