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Within a five-minute walk of the Stony Brook subway stop in the Jamaica Plain section of Boston, you can encounter the following:

  • A renovated industrial site of about five acres and sixteen buildings that serves as a business incubator for small firms that receive technical assistance from the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC), a nonprofit community development corporation, which is also housed there. Known as the Brewery after its former proprietor, a beer-maker, the complex is owned by a nonprofit subsidiary of JPNDC.
  • A 44,000-foot "Stop & Shop" supermarket. The market opened in 1991 after years in which the community had been without a major grocery store. It lies next to a recently renovated Community Health Center and a large high-rise public housing project. The land on which the market and health center sit was developed and is owned by a limited partnership that includes, in addition to a commercial investor, JPNDC and the Tenant Management Corporation of the housing project. Some of the income from the market and health center leases goes into a Community Benefits Trust Fund that supports job training and business development activities.
  • A cluster of small, attractive multi-unit residential buildings containing a total of forty-one homes. These units were built with support from the Federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit, and they are occupied by low and moderate income families at rents limited to thirty percent of family income. The buildings are owned by a limited partnership in which the general partners are a subsidiary of JPNDC and a resident cooperative; the limited partners include five conventional business corporations and a nonprofit corporation with a board composed of prominent government and business figures that promotes housing development throughout the state.
  • Two recently renovated apartment buildings – one with eleven units and one with forty-five units – designed with common areas and facilities for medical support for elderly residents. The project benefits from large federal grants. It is owned by JPNDC; the units are rented to the tenants at rents that cannot exceed thirty percent of their income.
  • A wood-frame building containing three apartments recently renovated by JPNDC with support from various public programs. JPNDC then sold it at a price well below market value to an individual, who, as a condition of ownership set out in the deed, must live in one of the units and rent the others only to people who meet specified income eligibility conditions at specified rents.

These institutions are products of the Community Economic Development (CED) Movement. Although it is unusual to find so many concentrated in such a small area-there are still others there that I have not mentioned-such projects can be found in most cities; their numbers have increased substantially in recent years, and there will be many more of them if current programs succeed. Such projects figure prominently in the most optimistic and innovative approaches to urban poverty on both the left and the right. They exemplify a kind of social entrepreneurialism that is flourishing across the country.' As support for traditional welfare and public housing programs has waned, there has been a corresponding (though far from proportionate) increase in support for CED. The Movement has been fueled by trends toward decentralizing public administration on the one hand and channeling the development of local markets along socially desirable paths on the other. It has also been encouraged by changes in the contours of urban politics, especially new strategies by neighborhood activists.


Land Use Law | Law | Law and Economics


Copyright 2002 by The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System; Reprinted by permission of the Wisconsin Law Review.