Councillors to Take Up Suffolk Downs SDOD

The City Council will take up a zoning request from the developers of Suffolk Downs at its meeting this coming Monday night.

The council’s Zoning Subcommittee met this past Monday with HYM Investments head Tom O’Brien to review his request for an overlay district, also known as an SDOD, at Suffolk Downs.

The zoning overlay district includes the Beachmont portion of the 161-acre site, part of the 40 percent which lies in Revere, HYM intends to develop whether or not Amazon decides to come to the expansive land of Suffolk Downs.

The Suffolk Downs Overlay District (SDOD) runs from Tomasello Drive, to Winthrop Avenue and down Washburn Avenue.

The “allowed” heights of the buildings will vary from 50 feet and up to 200, staggered as developers like to say as a “wedding cake.” There will be an allowance of 50 feet on the corner of Winthrop and Washburn Avenues.

The zoning plans also call for a Project Review Committee and a Public Advisory Group. He explained that the Public Advisory Group is more driving the public process, their meetings will be public.

O’Brien is excited with the prospects of an 50,000 square foot innovation center, also known as an incubate site, a co-working facility, where people can come in with their laptops and phones and set up shop.

“We see this as central to the whole makeup of the district,” O’Brien said. “We will come back with more detail when we apply for the special permit.”

He compared this area to District Hall in the Seaport District. There are also plans for a hotel at what will become known as Beachmont Square located at the corner of Winthrop Ave. and Bennington St in the Phase One portion of the project. He wants to see the hotel have a great restaurant and retail opportunities.

“This could create jobs and a place that will have a significant amount of commercial influence,” O’Brien said. “This sets the table for the city.”

Subcommittee chairman George Rotondo said part of why he asked HYM to come in was to discuss housing and traffic, adding that 99 percent of the traffic comes from outside the city.

“This is the first project this city has had of this magnitude – close to $100 million investment for the first piece of property that’s going to be put on that site,” Rotondo said.

O’Brien said there have not been any Class A office buildings built in Revere in decades. O’Brien added that last year Revere’s real estate taxes were $72 million.

“The taxes on this development when its done will be around $30 million,” O’Brien said, adding that this would shift the tax burden away from homeowners. He noted that Cambridge has a very low tax burden on its homeowners and have a significant amount of money to spend on schools and items like that because there’s so much office space.

Rotondo said allowing the overlay district also allows a process to take place to support transparency.

“That means that every single level of this process they have to come back to us,” Rotondo said. “It will change the economic dynamics of this city.”

“This innovation center is a minimum of $50 million investment by the developer with no guarantee of return,” said Councillor and subcommittee member Anthony Zambuto. “I dare say nobody else would be putting that up. I’m excited about this project. I’m not a cheerleader usually I take people on their record and this is an impeccable record.”

“This will be a catalyst for the city,” said subcommittee member and council president Jessica Gianinno.

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