Suffolk Downs Overlay District Approved by City Council

The City Council has approved the Suffolk Downs Overlay District proposed by HYM Investments, owners and developers of the 161-acre site that is shared with East Boston.

The overlay district covers the 52-acres on the old site on Winthrop Ave. of the racing track facility and sets the stage for the rest of the development.

Monday night HYM head Tom O’Brien sat quietly in the back row as the council took up the issue.

The overlay district is part of phase one of this massive project, and will include a 48,000 square-foot innovation center, also known as a co-working place and a hotel. The will be improved Blue Line stations at Beachmont and Suffolk Downs. The first phase includes 900 housing units and retail space. O’Brien has said that the 52-acre section in Revere would 2.9 million square feet of residential building would be balanced off by 2.9 million square feet of commercial/office space. In the end there would be between 2,500-3,000 residential units. He noted that no commercial office development has been proposed in Revere in decades.

Renderings show that “allowed” heights will vary between 50 feet and up to 200, staggered as developers said like a “wedding cake.” There will be an allowance of 50 feet on the corner of Winthrop and Washburn Avenues.

The zoning also calls for the establishment of a Project Review Committee and a Public Advisory Group.

Only Councillor Dan Rizzo said he could not vote for the zoning change.

“This is no reflection on the developer, I wanted to see some safeguards,” Rizzo said. “I’m more in line with protecting the city.”

“The commitment of $50 million on an innovation center couldn’t be more of a commitment. It think there’s plenty of protection,” said Councillor Anthony Zambuto.

“Deep down we all have our hidden reservations,” said Ward 3 Councillor Anthony Guinasso. “But I can’t wait for this to come on board.”

“We all saw “Field of Dreams”, ‘if you build it they will come.’ Like I said we’re rising a wave.”

The council voted 9-1 with Councillor George Rotundo absent.

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