McLean Hospital Case Studies

“Please accept my thanks for the development of McLean Hospital land… Our collaborative effort with the Town over the past three years was the right approach to negotiating a development plan with benefits for both the Town and McLean Hospital. We take great pride in the open and direct planning process we pursued with the people of Belmont.”Bruce M. Cohen, MD, PhD, Former President, McLean Hospital; Professor, Harvard Medical School


McLean Hospital, the largest psychiatric teaching facility of Harvard Medical School, sought to redevelop 240 acres of land in the Town of Belmont, representing 8% of the Town’s total size. The McLean Hospital Task Force was appointed by the Board of Selectmen to represent the Town’s interests in the McLean Hospital Land Use planning process, and Nancy J Kelley was elected to Chair the Task Force.


The McLean Task Force presided over an intensive two-and-one-half year process involving public education, establishment of Town goals and objectives, analysis of development proposals, negotiation with McLean Hospital over project impacts and benefits and creation of zoning and related legal documentation.

Nancy J Kelley chaired over one hundred educational sessions, public meetings, public hearings and other public forums during the course of this time, often fielding negative public commentary resulting from the anger and concerns of citizens related to the development.

In addition to continued use by McLean of its current facilities, the final plan:

  • Set aside 140 acres, or 90% of currently undeveloped land on the site, as permanently protected open space, connected with the MA Audubon Society’s Habitat Wildlife Sanctuary and with the state’s Beaver Brook and Rock Meadow reservations.  This open space provided a critical link in the Western Greenway, a six-mile corridor from Belmont to Waltham, MA.
  • Permitted 1.2 million square feet of development with a value of $300 million, including
    • 122 residential units,
    • 482-unit senior housing complex to be developed by the American Retirement Corporation, and
    • 150,000 square foot research and development office building.
  • Provided municipal burial space to the Town of Belmont, and created an historic preservation plan that called for McLean Hospital to be nominated for the National Register of Historic Places.

The value of the benefits to the Town of Belmont were estimated at approximately $75 million.


The work of the Task Force was ultimately endorsed through support of the land use plan by a unanimous vote of the Board of Selectmen, by a two-thirds vote of the Town Meeting and a vote of 69% of the Town’s electorate. The Belmont Citizen-Herald and the Boston Globe both endorsed the plan.

The Board of Selectmen issued a proclamation of thanks to Nancy J Kelley for her faithful service, stating that “the McLean Land Use Plan will benefit the Town for generations by controlling development on the site, protecting over 100 acres of open space, and providing municipal burial space”, among other things such as expanded tax base.

mclean hospital

View All Case Studies   Contact Us to Get Started on Your Project

Share this Project