Boston’s plans to hold back rising seawater stall amid real estate slowdown

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Boston has placed significant aspects of its plan to protect the city from rising sea levels on the actions of private developers. Amid a post-Covid commercial development slump, though, efforts to build protective infrastructure have stalled.

When officials approved major projects, they hoped that infrastructure improvements would both protect new developments and prevent flood waters from penetrating low-lying neighborhoods around them. Projects that include features such as sea walls, berms, and elevated land have been put on hold by a global real estate downturn that has made it difficult to finance large projects.

Inaction on planned coastal resilience infrastructure raises questions about the city’s plan of leaning on the private sector to help pay for an essential public good, according to a report in the Boston Globe. Most of the city’s coastline is privately held or controlled, leaving the city little other option than to partner with private landowners.

Prior to the pandemic, Boston was in the midst of a development boom in the Seaport district and other coastal locations, but the construction climate has cooled recently.

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