Local groups pushing for key changes to Suffolk Downs redevelopment plan

Local groups pushing for key changes to Suffolk Downs redevelopment plan

BOSTON — The future of Suffolk Downs is still shaping up with the historic development project by HYM Investigators in the public comment phase. The mixed residential and retail space would be constructed in phases over a 15-20 year period and cost over $1 billion.

Lawyers For Civil Rights and a group of housing advocates are not sold yet. They filed a comment letter to the Boston Planning and Development Agency opposing the current redevelopment plan for the former racetrack.

"Commitments not just to jobs and economic equality, but to housing, climate resilience and process actually laid out in documents that bind HYM to its obligations," said Lauren Sampson, Lawyers For Civil Rights.

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LCR and community groups asked for an increase of HYM's contribution to East Boston Housing Stabilization Fund, a commitment to making all construction at least zero net carbon and have all housing units affordable.

"We asked the developer to commit to 50% of the units at affordable rates at 30% of the area median income that reflects what people in East Boston can actually afford," said Sampson.

HYM founding partner Tom O'Brien tells Boston 25 News in a statement:

"Our proposal for the redevelopment of Suffolk Downs would add 10,000 units of housing, the largest single addition to Boston's housing stock in history…[It] will be in compliance with Boston's 13% Inclusionary Development Policy, totaling 930 affordable units, and the project will generate an estimated $33.6 million in linkage payments to the City of Boston to support further housing and job creation."

"It's everything to do with what you're gonna put in writing, and whether it helps us really create a new neighborhood," said Boston City Councilor Lydia Edwards.

Boston 25 News reporter Crystal Haynes asked East Boston City Councilor and Transportation Committee Chair Lydia Edwards if 50% is reasonable.

"I think the point of this moment is to demonstrate what we want and to be clear, we're all adults, we know we're not going to get everything we asked for, but you need to go big," said Edwards.

The public comment deadline has been extended until the end of October.