By Sue Ellen Woodcock
No matter what happens with the bid to lure Amazon to Suffolk Downs, HYM Investments will be the ones working on any development that would be coming to the 161-acre site in East Boston and Revere.
For the second time since the spring, HYM principal Tom O’Brien came to the City Council meeting on Monday night to discuss the massive undertaking that will take place. O’Brien’s visit came on the heels of a Boston/Revere proposal for Amazon’s (HQ2) second headquarters.
“We have the same sight and vision whether we have Amazon or not,” O’Brien said.
“We’re taking a 20th century racetrack economy and turning it into a 21st century economy,” said Mayor Brian Arrigo. “We’re all pulling in the same direction and there have been ongoing conversations with HYM.”
HYM acquired the site in May of this year with the vision of mixed use development.
“We can build great streets onsite,” O’Brien said, adding a similarity to Assembly Row in Somerville. “But we can do much better than Assembly Row.”
O’Brien added that the Boston proposal is closely competing with Austin, Texas; New York and Nashville, Tenn.
O’Brien said they are looking to create a neighborhood with buildings of varied height, green areas, recreational areas, restaurants, living space in the form of townhouses, senior housing and home ownership opportunities. Twenty five percent of the site will be open space.
“Amazon is looking for community,” O’Brien said. “Their wish is part of our vision.”
O’Brien added that if Amazon does come through the first building will be on site by 2019.
“With or without Amazon, our commitment remains the same,” O’Brien said. “I feel proud of what we have done.”
“We are very lucky to have this developer,” said Councillor Tony Zambuto.
“It’s refreshing to know you can sit with the developer and not a lawyer,” said Ward 1 Councillor Joanne McKenna.
The project will also see upgrades in transportation at the Blue Line stops.
The proposal states this site is one of the largest development sites in the Northeast. Suffolk Downs enjoys the advantage of providing a blank canvas for the HQ2 development—this area has the flexibility to not only meet and exceed Amazon’s current goals, it will also be able to evolve with the ever-changing needs of the company.
“The Blue Line is the front door to the site,” O’Brien said.
Collectively, the municipalities of Revere, Winthrop, Chelsea, Everett, Malden, Saugus, and Lynn—communities accessible by bus or train into Boston—plan or project over 8,900 units of housing. There is also potential for the expansion of the Blue Line and a link between the Blue Line and the Red Line. “I’m excited to work with you on traffic,” said Ward 2 Councillor Ira Novoselsky.
Councillor Jessica Giannino said Revere needs more commercial development and “it looks like it’s going to have the feel of a neighborhood.”
O’Brien said they believe this 160-acre neighborhood can also be the ideal place to integrate emerging urban systems and technologies. This includes managing storm water run off and management of wetlands area.
“We know we can’t lose in this multi-year process,” said Ward 3 Councillor Arthur Guinasso.