How To Permit a 6 Million Square Foot Development Project

February 28th, 2024

A Q&A Session with Dorchester Bay City Permitting Leads Talya Moked, LEED BC+D and Cindy Schlessinger.

Dorchester Bay City, Boston, Mass.

Dorchester Bay City is a more than 6 million-square-foot development project located in the Dorchester section of Boston that concluded MEPA review earlier this year. Epsilon has led the project’s permitting efforts since 2019. Permitting Matters interviewed Epsilon Planning Group Manager Talya Moked, LEED AP BD+C, who is the project’s PM and a firm Associate and Cindy Schlessinger, Principal in Charge for DBC.

Q: Let’s get to it. Can you offer the cliff notes version of Dorchester Bay City?

A(Cindy Schlessinger): Sure thing! This is a 6.13 million square foot development covering 36 acres, a portion of which is located at the former Bayside Exposition Center. It includes approximately 1,960 residential units, 20 percent of which are affordable; 180,900 sf of ground floor retail/commercial space; and over 4 million sf of office, research, and other potential uses. The approved plan also includes nearly 20 acres of public realm and open space. I could go on, it’s been a very cool and exciting project to work on.

Q:What makes it so cool?

A(Cindy): It will completely remake this significant parcel, with a major focus on public open space and a new street circulation system for pedestrians, vehicles, and bicyclists. A big improvement for a site that is currently mostly surface parking. It will offer many community benefits and will be a great place to live in, to work in, or to just enjoy.

Q: From an environmental permitting perspective, pretty cut-and-dry?

A(Talya Moked): Far from it.

Q: What makes it so complicated?

A(Talya): It is a big site with many City and State stakeholders, which required a lot of coordination to get the stakeholders on the same page.

Q: Does its location on Boston Harbor make permitting matters worse?

A(Talya): I wouldn’t put it that way. More complex, not worse. Encouraging the public’s access to and enjoyment of the nearby Dorchester Bay waterfront is a key component of the project as well as climate change resiliency, which included making sure the project design, including the resiliency measures, are compliant with the Massachusetts Public Waterfront Act (Chapter 91). Getting Erik Rexford, Epsilon’s Chapter 91 guru, involved early to make sure all Chapter 91 requirements were taken into consideration was key. Erik’s ongoing involvement in the project also allowed him to move quickly on preparing the Chapter 91 Application as the MEPA review process was coming to an end.

Q: What advice do you have for developers and owners considering undertaking large projects like this one?

A(Cindy): Well of course, the first thing you need to do is to hire Epsilon! We’re a firm focused on permitting, with extensive experience permitting large and small projects including many of the largest real estate development projects in the City. Epsilon’s Planning Practice permits real estate projects throughout the state with a particular focus on Greater Boston including Somerville, Cambridge and Watertown. Epsilon has specialists in-house for many of the topics studied including greenhouse gas, historic resources, Chapter 91, wetlands, acoustics, and air quality. Many of Epsilon’s employees have first-hand knowledge of the agencies requirements having worked at many of the agencies we deal with on a regular basis including MEPA and the BPDA. Others at Epsilon have or currently are on agency-led committees assisting in the revamping of regulations and procedures. In today’s environment and constantly changing regulations, it’s really important to make sure you have the right firm with the right people to navigate the process.

Q: So, how do you and your team permit a 6 million square foot development project?

A(Talya, Cindy): Just like any other. Very, very carefully and with patience, diligence, and a sense of humor!

Epsilon offers special shout-outs to these all-star Epsilon teammates who have been critical to achieving our success with Dorchester Bay City: Project Planner Christina Lyons, Senior Engineer Alex Brooks, CEM, Lead Consultant Katie Raymond, Chapter 91 expert and firm Associate Erik Rexford and coastal permitting expert and Principal Dwight Dunk, LP.D. Great work so far, team!

Learn more about Dorchester Bay City here.

About the Experts:

Talya Moked, LEED AP BD+C, Manager of Epsilon's Planning Group joined Epsilon in 2013 as a Staff Planner. She is an environmental planner by profession with experience preparing documentation in compliance with the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) and the Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA). Talya in fact got her start at BPDA as a Green Building and Zoning Intern conducting research and policy recommendations on municipal green building policies and climate change adaptation practices. She now provides consulting services related to Article 37 (Green Buildings) of the Boston Zoning Code, including its Green Building and Climate Change resilience requirements for projects subject to Article 80 (Guidelines for developments and institutional master plans).



Cindy Schlessinger, Principal of Epsilon’s Planning Group, develops strategies for the completion of regulatory processes to ensure that clients finish the entitlement phase of their projects efficiently. Proficient at coordinating project teams and working effectively with agency staff, Cindy helps clients negotiate paths through permitting and review processes that enable projects to proceed to construction. Prior to beginning her consulting career, Ms. Schlessinger was a project manager at the Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) and retains an excellent working knowledge of the BPDA.​



Erik Rexford, Associate is an environmental consultant with over 15 years of experience, Erik Rexford joined Epsilon in 2015. Erik is known both inside and outside Epsilon as a “go-to” expert on the Massachusetts Public Waterfront Act, or “Chapter 91,” covering commercial, energy transmission, and residential development projects. Though Epsilon has been and remains the permitting expert of choice on many of the largest development projects across the region, Erik, like his colleagues, works on a variety of projects, both large and small.



Dwight Dunk, LPD, PWS, BCES, Principal is a senior environmental scientist whose professional practice, and academic research, has focused on developing interdisciplinary solutions to environmental challenges. He has applied his ecological and policy expertise to projects nationwide servicing federal, state, local, and private-sector clients. Dr. Dunk’s scientific expertise is in the fields of freshwater and coastal wetland ecology; while his permitting and policy expertise focuses on developing and implementing strategies to secure approvals for National Environmental Policy Act documents and state-level equivalents, as well as federal, state, and local environmental approvals.



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