Urban Renewal Program

Program DescriptionUrban 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.


Eligible Participants

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


How it works

Urban renewal is used as a last resort -- 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. 


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
  • Relocate displaced businesses & residents
  • Issue bonds, borrow money, and receive grants loans and gifts
  • Manage property


Technical Assistance

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. 

For more information contact Carol Wolfe, Community Revitalization Coordinator, at
617-573-1450 or CarolWolfe@state.ma.us.