Why Not Build Up Areas Around Gateway Cities?

There are 13 Gateway Cities around—cities around Massachusetts that are currently struggling, but which could turn out to be important cogs to their regional economies.  Many believe the way to turn those economies around might be found right in those cities.  Right now, there is a lot of vacant land, or land that is not properly utilized in those areas that are close to commuter rail stops.  It is estimated that there could be 140,000 residents and workers added to these areas which would mean more jobs and more riders on commuter rail.

These 13 Gateway Cities could house 230,000 residents who would work and ride the rail from these areas—that would be up from 90,000 currently in those Gateway Cities.  These areas near commuter rail are underdeveloped for both residential and commercial development in part because people think commuter rail is too expensive.  Now might be the time to build-up those areas as there are currently not many people riding the commuter rail, so the land in those areas is less expensive.  Conversely, right now, land near subways is more expensive as people taking more advantage of this form of public transportation.

Commuter rail is not inexpensive to ride, therefore businesses prefer to locate nearer to subways, however many argue that if more people and businesses located in these areas of above-ground rail, the fares could be reduced as more riders would reduce the per-person operating costs. The benefit would also be given to these Gateway Cities as they gain more in taxes from new businesses, and they gain more residents who spread income around the communities.

With land already vacant, underutilized, and underpriced, now could be the time for the state to offer more incentives for new housing in these areas.  There are already some programs for housing in Massachusetts, but some argue that if those programs were expanded to give money or tax credits for development of both commercial and residential properties in Gateway Cities, the entire region could benefit.

This could be the time to see more affordable housing, more jobs, an increase in the use of public transportation, and therefore fewer vehicles on the road for commutes to the city.  There seem to be some really solid reasons for these Gateway Cities to see growth in the near future.  We’ll see if the results bear that out over the near future.

If you would like more information regarding buildings available in the greater Boston office market, contact Jeremy Cyrier at [email protected] or by phone at 617-340-8520.

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