Boston – Keegan Werlin LLP announced that Brian Golden, a former director of the Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA), has joined the firm as a partner and chair of the real estate development and permitting practice. In addition to real estate services, the newly launched practice will assist local authorities in land use matters, including assignments, abatements and licenses.
Golden served as chairman of the BPDA for more than eight years, spearheading the largest construction boom in Boston history and pioneering reforms in politics and public processes to improve the lives of Bostonians. As the longest-serving director in the agency’s history, he focused on improving transparency, accountability and community engagement while improving affordable housing, economic development and climate resilience in Boston neighborhoods. Golden led intense operational reform efforts over several years and renamed the agency from the former Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) to the Boston Planning & Development Agency to better reflect the agency’s mission.
During his tenure, Golden directed more than 90 million square feet of development permits through the BPDA’s permitting process, representing an investment of approximately $43 billion and supporting over 80,000 permanent jobs. Golden expanded the BPDA’s planning capacity and oversaw the completion of the first general city plan since 1965, Imagine Boston 2030, in addition to comprehensive neighborhood planning studies representing 30 percent of Boston’s landmass. As director, Golden managed 20 million square feet of BPDA-owned property, including the Raymond L. Flynn Marine Park (RLFMP) and the Charlestown Navy Yard (CNY), prioritizing public lands for the public good.
Last July, Golden traveled to Singapore to accept an international design award on behalf of the city of Boston. The Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize honored Boston with an Honorable Mention based on the city’s holistic work on climate resilience, improving housing affordability and mobility options, and promoting civic participation. Boston was the only city in the United States to be recognized in the 2020 awards cycle and one of only four cities to be recognized globally.
Golden has been an attorney since 1993 and a former member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, where he served in the Allston-Brighton neighborhood of Boston. He has also served as regional director for New England at the US Department of Health and Human Services, commissioner in the Massachusetts Department of Telecommunications and Energy, and a board member of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston. Golden has more than 25 years of active duty and reserve service as an officer in the United States Army. His military experience includes deployments in Bosnia, Iraq and Israel/West Bank. Golden is a graduate of the Boston Latin School and Harvard College. He received a Master of Strategic Studies degree from the US Army War College and a law degree from the College of William and Mary’s School of Law.
Sean Nehill has also joined Keegan Werlin as senior counsel to the real estate development and permitting practice and the energy sites practice.
Nehill brings nearly 16 years of public sector experience from the BPDA’s Office of General Counsel and the City of Boston’s Office of Corporation Counsel. Most recently, Nehill served as Associate General Counsel for the BPDA, where he negotiated and structured permit documents under Section 80 of the Boston Zoning Code and the Inclusionary Development Policy. He also advised BPDA’s management and employees on all legal matters relating to the administration and disposal of their real estate portfolio at Charlestown Navy Yard and the RLFMP; and obligations arising under the Open Meetings Act, the Public Records Act, the Conflicts of Interest Act and Government Procurement Act. Nehill acted as an advisor in the negotiation and sale of the City of Boston’s Winthrop Square Garage, one of the most significant public land transfers in the city’s history, raising the City of Boston over $150 million.
Before joining the BPDA in 2015, Nehill served as Assistant Corporation Counsel for the City of Boston for nearly nine years. In a variety of leadership positions, his work has included representing the City of Boston in tax disputes before the Land Court, advising numerous departments of the city including the Court of Appeals, the Mayor’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Licensing, the Election Department, the Inspectional Services Department, and Defense these departments in litigation ranging from breach of contract claims to complaints alleging violations of the Fair Housing Act. Nehill is a graduate of Boston College and the Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law.