Since the proposal for Suffolk Downs redevelopment surfaced two years ago, there have been over 300 meetings with state and local officials and community groups in both Revere and East Boston. Last Wednesday night, The HYM Investment Group held a public meeting at the Rumney Marsh Academy to explain all the aspects of the project.
“Welcome to history,” said Mayor Brian Arrigo at the start of the presentation, one intended as part of the community engagement process.
The proposed 161-acre development, with 60 percent on the East Boston side and 40 percent on the Revere side, will include residential (condos, apartments and 10 percent senior housing., retail and office uses (2.5 million square feet in lab/office space, as well as a 50,000 square-foot Innovation Center, a hotel, roadways, bike paths, open space and more just on the Winthrop side of the project. There will also be on-street parking and parking under the buildings.
Attending the presentation were members of the Suffolk Downs Advisory Board, which consists of 25 people from around Revere, who were appointed after the City Council approved the special development overlay district for the project in March. The committee began its work in June.
Bob O’Brien, director of economic development for the City of Revere, said the advisory group is comprised of extremely dedicated and well-informed people. He added that the Advisory Board meetings addressed specific areas including traffic and transportation. One large portion of the project is the widening of Route 1A from two lanes on each side to three. Another area proposed to change is the Beachmont area of Winthrop Avenue. Lanes will be reconfigured and signalization improved.
“The process has been transparent and very professional,” O’Brien said. “This is a truly transforming development.”
“I’ve been doing this for more than 25 years and this is one of the most professional processes I’ve been involved with,” said Tom O’Brien, founding partner and managing director The HYM Investment group “I think the size and the scope of the project is going to be transformative.”
Tom O’Brien said the T stations at Beachmont and Suffolk Downs will serve as the front door of the development. Tom O’Brien said they consider this project a transit- oriented development (TOD) site. He also noted that his group works on large, complicated projects like the one proposed. Recent work has included the New Balance building, the new Bruin practice facility in Alston Brighton, Northpoint in Cambridge and Government Center garage in downtown Boston.
“The annual tax revenue to Revere is projected to be about $30 million. I think that substantially increases Revere tax base,” Tom O’Brien said.
The Suffolk Downs project includes a $300 million infrastructure build out on and off-site, $50 million of that will be invested in transportation/traffic issues outside of the 161-acre project.
“We’ve also done a study working closely with Mayor Brian Arrigo and Bob (O’Brien, director of Economic Development) to be sure we’ve adequately thought through what potential expenses might be with the police and fire departments,” Tom O’Brien said.
The school department is also something to think about. Larry Smith of Beachmont shared concerns about the impact on schools. It was noted that Overlook Ridge project introduced 39 students to the Revere School system.