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University of Baltimore Journal of Land and Development

Abstract

The focus of this paper pertains to a relatively new concept known as a Community Benefits Agreement (hereinafter “CBA”). Although this concept was born in the nineties, for the purpose of addressing the impacts of development projects on communities, CBAs recently gained momentum as a result of cities and municipalities becoming increasingly popular for large scale developments such as sports arenas and high rise apartment buildings. At their inception CBAs allowed communities to negotiate directly with developers, and gave communities the opportunity to address problems associated with a development project. CBAs are defined differently depending on whom one asks, however, generally a CBA is a contract or agreement between a developer and a community group or community coalition in the area a developer plans to build. CBAs contain a set of guidelines or rules that developers should abide by to ensure that the community benefits from the project or proposed development.

A development project can produce many positive outcomes for municipalities and states alike, such as: government attention, increased services to neighborhoods involved in the development, building restoration, entertainment, an increased tax base, and an increased property value. However, such development also causes gentrification. Generally speaking, gentrification is an influx of more affluent residents which disproportionately changes the demographic of a particular area, causing the previous residents to relocate. Development projects cater to individuals in a higher socioeconomic status by offering expensive retail and entertainment options. This causes the displacement of many residents who can no longer afford to live in their communities, or surrounding neighborhoods, as a result of a project increasing property values or increasing the base rent for a particular area. Urban development highlights gentrification, displacement, and low community involvement.

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