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A proposal that would have allowed the city to increase linkage fees for new commercial development by 44% has met a surprising end, with the measure dying in limbo as the state’s legislative session came to a close this week. “The whole thing is dead,” says Samuel Tyler, executive director of the Boston Municipal Research Bureau, a business-backed group that keeps an eye on the city’s finances. “We’re back to square one.”

The local real estate community opposed Boston’s home rule petition when it was introduced earlier this year, but a modified version eventually won tacit indifference from such entities as the Greater Boston Real Estate Board and the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties. The measure would have allowed linkage fees to increase from $5 per sf to $7.18 per sf to fund affordable housing, and raise a job-training fee from $1 per sf to $1.44 per sf. The fees, which are collected over a seven-year period, are not applicable for the first 100,000 sf of construction.

With little opposition from the private sector, the bill seemed certain to pass, but it was held up in the final moments by two state senators. They demanded a study on how Boston distributes additional community benefits that are often hammered out separately between developers and the neighborhood where a project is located.

Although there have been concerns raised of late about the separate, open-ended benefits and their potential for choking future projects, Tyler says the real estate industry was not as worried about linkage itself, given its predictability. Lobbyists did repel efforts to apply linkage to the first 100,000 sf of construction and to require the payments be made up front, but the hike in rates was deemed acceptable to reflect the rise of inflation since 1987.

NAIOP did not fight the linkage increase, and Massachusetts chapter CEO David Begelfer says he was surprised to see the measure killed. But while acknowledging the need for additional affordable housing and job training, Begelfer says he doubts NAIOP or any other industry group will shed many tears. “I don’t think you are going to see developers piling into the legislature demanding that the bill be passed” Begelfer says. “It’s one thing to accept it, it’s another to promote it.”

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