REVERE, Mass. - The Suffolk Downs site is prime real estate of 109-acres of land but finding something to go there has not been easy. Horse racing is gone; the Amazon bid failed, and so did the casino effort.
But there is a bold new vision Boston and Revere have for the property: it would be a new neighborhood spanning parts of East Boston and Revere.
The developer hopes to move the first resident into the project by 2022, but first they are taking public comment. They have had more than 350 meetings about the development that could end up being home to tens of thousands of people.
The HYM Development Group is pushing forward plans for the 1.39 million square feet of the Suffolk Downs property it purchased in the spring of 2017.
"So we have to take this entire race track and build open space, road and streets, and buildings and retail and all of things to build it into a neighborhood," said Thomas O'Brien, the managing director for HYM Development Group.
Tuesday evening was the latest of what has been hundreds of public meetings on the proposed project that includes a hotel, up to 10,000 townhomes, retail and office space, as well as parks and open space.
"So sort of small retail," O’Brien said. "This won't be large supermarkets or things like that, this will be small restaurants and things like that. Places where people can go enjoy a nice meal and walk through nice parks."
Revere has already signed off on its part, but there is still more to consider on the Boston side, and the state must sign off on their environmental plan.
Among the most recent concerns, security in these proposed new parks and open spaces, the impact on traffic, the environment and the amount of affordable housing included in the project.
"East Boston is a small community and this proposed development will greatly increase the population, which will increase cost of living, and so we are basically concerned that it will put more people at risk of becoming homeless," said Blake Shetler of the East Boston Community Soup Kitchen.
The developer doesn't expect to break ground on the Boston side for another four or five years, but since the Revere side is approved that construction could start as soon as next year near Beachmont Station.
As far as Suffolk Downs goes, live racing there is done for good. They do have a contract to continue simulcasting races in this building for the next year.
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