After a summer break in August, the Suffolk Downs Advisory Group comprised of local officials and community members, returned to work discussing the future development of Suffolk Downs with HYM Investments, owners and developers of the 161-acre site in Revere and East Boston.
The topics at last Wednesday night’s meeting, were workplace development to include Revere residents, the proposed Innovation Center at Beachmont, and of course the topic of traffic came up, but that will be discussed at the Oct. 10 meeting a which there will be a much-anticipated traffic and transportation analysis.
Tom O’Brien, head of HYM Investments, said the Innovation Center, which will be near the Beachmont side of the development and “sets the table,” as he likes to say.
O’Brien said some companies, because of the nature of the business, don’t offer a desk to go to everyday. Others work from home or on the road. People like this would use the Innovation Center.
“There’s a plug-in mentality to it,” he said. “You have your laptop and ID. There might be a central office administrator there who will tell you what offices or cubicles are available that day. It’s seems strange but it’s the nature of how things are.”
“The Innovation Center is a table setter,” O’Brien said. “It creates a new entry for what the site is going to become. We want it to be a prominent building (50,000 sq.ft.) on the site.”
O’Brien has said that the developers will be putting up $50 million for the center.
He noted a company called We Work, which explores the concept of co-working. He said there are many young companies coming out of these sites. There are other companies like John Hancock and State Street Bank who are taking space in some of the We Work spaces.
“It’s not a lot of people playing ping-pong, it may feel like a wide-open space, maybe a little like a dormitory but there is real work that is going on,” O’Brien said. “It’s a flexible, open space that encourages collaboration.”
People can expect a consistent upbeat, clean design throughout the development that helps mix residential, retail, restaurant, and office. The use of glass in the development, and O’Brien said ties in to issues of sustainability and energy efficiently. This building is for all of us, you don’t have to be an entrepreneur. We want to create an energy that goes all the way through, open and welcoming. The objective is to bring people to the site.”
Developers touch on the subject of traffic, which will be the topic at the Oct. 10 meeting. For starters there is expected to be a total of 6,917 parking spaces at full-build out, many underneath the buildings. Developers also plan to expand Route 1A from two-lanes in each direction to three lanes each way. There will also changes to Furlong Drive, Tomisello Drive will become a fully-signalized intersection, the Boardman Street intersection will also be addressed and more.
O’Brien said there is no word yet on whether or not Amazon has decided to locate its HQ2 at Suffolk Downs. While it would be a bonus, O’Brien has said the development of Suffolk Downs would still move on. Amazon is expected to make a decision by the end of the year.