We see it everywhere we go.
Transit-oriented development has been booming in greater Boston, and other United States metropolitan areas for many years. But, what’s occasionally overlooked is the effect these projects have on local residents and merchants who have long called these areas home.
This is an important area of research, says Greg Clancy ’20 in his final Honors Project presentation, who honed in on the socioeconomic and polarizing impact of such development in Somerville, a well-known suburb of Boston.
To conclude his yearlong honors capstone experience, Clancy presented research that would advocate for those slighted by gentrification.
Shedding Light on Communities
This year, 27 honors students from the Class of 2020 explored everything from long-term financial value in Major League Baseball, to blockchain-in-education applications, and innovative strategies of Western-style fast food chains in China.
Clancy discovered that surrounding property sold after the 2012 groundbreaking of Somerville’s Assembly Row shopping center would be worth significantly more money than if it were sold prior.
He also determined that area residents experienced dramatic increases in property value following the opening of Assembly Row in 2014, “likely contributing to inequality and driving people who lived there out.”
Though he originally intended to research the effect of a transit-oriented development, a type of urban development that involves residential and/or commercial construction near accessible public transportation, on Assembly Square itself, his entrepreneurial mindset pushed him to shift gears and widen his focus on the greater issue at hand.
“After looking at the data, you couldn’t ignore the impact of a big development like this on the surrounding community,” he said in his presentation.
Dean Ian Lapp said the capstone course offers an opportunity to precipitate change in a community.
“The beauty of the Honors Project is the mentorship of our faculty to guide students in a interdisciplinary approach to analysis and the application of an entrepreneurial mindset to shine a light on socioeconomic phenomena and to develop a creative solution to solving problems.”
Ursula Dedekind’s Honors Project, “An Exploration of the Attitudes and Activities of the Emerging Music Entrepreneur.”