​Governor Deval Patrick recently announced he'd reached a deal with Fenway Center developer John Rosenthal to lease 4.5 acres of state-owned lands and air rights for 99 years for $226 million. Despite a delay in final approval due to a request for additional information from some members of the Department of Transportation board, the lease will likely be approved at the next MassDOT meeting. The region is the closest it has come to seeing construction on a project involving air rights over the Massachusetts Turnpike since the 1980s. What does it mean for the future of air rights in Boston? Development can actually happen: During the Great Recession, other projects further down the Pike lost funding and it seemed Copley Place would be the last air rights project built downtown. Despite the complex engineering challenges presented by building a deck over the highway, the project is funded. This proves we may yet see more cranes over I-90. Developers should work with abutters to address concerns: Despite taking a decade to get this close to approval, most wanted to see the Fenway Center come to fruition. Apartments, stores, restaurants, a revamped commuter rail station, and office space is far superior to the current use of this space: a massive parking lot that cuts between Brookline and Fenway Park. Government needs to think long-term: It's not about getting the highest rent; it's about finding the developer with the plan that brings the most value to the unused space, such as mixed-use buildings with amenities for all Bostonians to use. As Matthew J. Keifer wrote in CommonWealth magazine: While projects can eventually generate lease revenue as they become profitable, it's not a material amount in relation to the Commonwealth's transportation budget. Raising revenue to fill short-term public budget shortfalls should not be the primary motivation for development. Rather, history has proved that the most important public benefits of air rights development relate to smart growth and economic development. One more, and it's a trend: ADG Scotia's project near the Hynes Convention Center was also approved by MassDOT, and is under review by the Boston Redevelopment Authority. In another few years, the panoramic views of the Turnpike will be replaced by residential, retail, and office space. We can't wait to see construction begin. By Amy Derjue, Senior Account Executive