Boston – Keegan Werlin LLP announced that Brian Golden, 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 support municipalities with land use, including transfers, reductions and licensing.
Golden served for more than eight years as CEO of the BPDA, managing the largest construction boom in Boston history, while ushering in public policy and process reforms to improve the lives of Bostonians. As the longest-serving director in the agency’s history, he has focused on improving transparency, accountability and community engagement, while increasing affordable housing, economic development and climate resilience in Boston neighborhoods. Golden led an intensive operational reform effort 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 guided more than 90 million square feet of development approvals through the BPDA permitting process, representing approximately $43 billion in investment and supporting more than 80,000 permanent jobs. Golden increased the planning capacity of the BPDA, overseeing the completion of the city’s first comprehensive plan since 1965, Imagine Boston 2030, in addition to comprehensive neighborhood planning studies representing 30% of Boston’s land mass. 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 planning award on behalf of the City of Boston. The Lee Kuan Yew Global City Award gave Boston a special mention based on the city’s holistic work on climate resilience, improving housing affordability and mobility options, and promoting participation civic. Boston was the only city in the United States honored in the 2020 awards cycle and one of only four cities honored worldwide.
A lawyer since 1993, Golden is a former member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, where he served Boston’s Allston-Brighton ward. He also served as New England Regional Director for the US Department of Health and Human Services, Commissioner for the Massachusetts Department of Telecommunications and Energy, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston. Golden served as an officer in the United States Army, on active duty and in the reserve, for more than 25 years. His military experience includes assignments in Bosnia, Iraq and Israel/West Bank. Golden is a graduate of Boston Latin School and Harvard College. He earned a master’s degree in strategic studies 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 lead counsel for the Real Estate Development and Permitting Practice Group, as well as the Energy Siting Practice Group.
Nehill brings nearly 16 years of public sector experience from the BPDA’s Office of General Counsel and the Boston City Office of General Counsel. Most recently, Nehill served as Associate General Counsel for the BPDA, where he negotiated and structured permitting documents under Section 80 of the Boston Zoning Code and Inclusive Development Policy. He also advised BPDA senior management and staff on all legal matters relating to the management and disposition of its real estate portfolio in the Charlestown Navy Yard and the RLFMP; and obligations arising from the Law on Public Meetings, the Law on Public Records, the Law on Conflicts of Interest and Public Procurement. Nehill served as counsel in the negotiation and sale of the City of Boston’s Winthrop Square Garage, one of the largest public land transfers in the city’s history, which raised over $150 million to support the city of Boston.
Prior to joining the BPDA in 2015, Nehill served as an assistant company attorney for the City of Boston for nearly nine years. In various leadership roles, his work included representing the City of Boston in tax disputes in Land Court, providing in-house counsel to numerous city departments, including the Appeals Chamber, the Mayor’s Office of Consumer and Licensing, the Department of Elections, and the Department of Inspection Services, and defend these departments in litigation ranging from breach of contract actions 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.