Program Description

Urban renewal is a strategy for redeveloping and revitalizing substandard, decadent and blighted open areas for residential, commercial, industrial, business, governmental, recreational, educational, hospital or other uses.  Under M.G.L. Chapter 121B municipalities, through their urban renewal agencies, are authorized to undertake a wide range of public actions to address these conditions and to create the environment needed to attract and support private development and promote sound growth in designated neighborhoods.  DHCD’s Division of Community Services administers the urban renewal program, including assisting municipalities to establish and strengthen urban renewal agencies, and providing assistance and resources to prepare and implement urban renewal plans.  

M.G.L. Chapter 121B

Urban Renewal Implementation Regulations 760 CMR 12.00

Urban Renewal Plan Preparation Guide pdf format of urbanrenewal-preparationguide.pdf

How to Establish a Redevelopment Authority pdf format of howtoestablisharedevelopemntauthority.pdf

Eligible Participants

Any city or town in the Commonwealth may establish either a Redevelopment Authority under M.G.L. Chapter 121B, or Consolidated Community Development Departments under M.G.L. Chapter 43C, and undertake urban renewal activities.

Eligible Activities

  • Prepare & implement urban renewal or other comprehensive plans
  • Establish rehabilitation and design standards
  • Acquire land, including eminent domain
  • Demolish and rehabilitate substandard structures
  • Undertake site preparation & environmental remediation
  • Assemble and dispose of land for private development
  • Engage in real estate development and commercial revitalization
  • Relocate displaced businesses & residents
  • Issue bonds and borrow money
  • Receive grants, loans and gift
  • Manage property

How It Works

Urban renewal is used -- when redevelopment can’t be accomplished with existing municipal regulatory powers or by the private sector alone.  Urban renewal agencies have broad powers to plan and implement activities needed to address the conditions contributing to the disinvestment that leads to substandard, decadent and blighted open areas.  The preparation of an urban renewal plan is necessary for an urban renewal agency to undertake certain actions, including the taking of private property by eminent domain, and the disposition of this property to another private entity for redevelopment.  Urban renewal agencies are also exempt from M.G.L. Chapter 30B, the Uniform Procurement Act, when the acquisition and disposition of property are undertaken in accordance with an approved urban renewal plan.

Urban Renewal Plan Approval

In order to approve a proposed Urban Renewal Plan, DHCD must determine that: without public action the project/site would not be developed; the project will promote desired private investment; the plan for financing the project is sound; the project area is decadent, substandard or blighted open; the Urban Renewal Plan submission is complete; and the Urban Renewal Plan includes a Relocation Plan, as appropriate. 

Additional Program Information

Organizing for Economic Development

What is Urban Renewal? pdf format of whatis-urbanrenewal.pdf

Urban Renewal Projects pdf format of S:\111\CWolfe\URpageMay2015\urbanrenewal-projects.pdf

The Commonwealth's Sustainable Development Principles docx format of commonwealthsustainable-dev-princ.docx

Other Resources

Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs

Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection

Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act Office (MEPA)

Massachusetts Historical Commission



Massachusetts Housing Partnership

MassWorks Infrastructure Program

State-Subsidized Environmental Insurance

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development


For more information contact (617) -573-1400.