Ward 5 Councillor John Powers drives past the former Wonderland Greyhound Park property sometimes twice a day, if not more.
Powers and his former colleague, the late Robert Haas Jr., were the co-sponsors of a motion a few years ago to have the clubhouse and grandstand buildings and track demolished to make way for new development.
Thought the demolition project took longer than he had hoped, Powers is quite pleased the buildings are gone and prospective developers can see the 30-acre property as they pass by on the nearby VFW Parkway.
“It’s ready for development,” said Powers during a recent visit to the site.
Powers shared his vision for the site with the Revere Journal, calling the property “one of the prime pieces of property” in the entire Greater Boston area.
“I would envision a commercial development with perhaps, an office park, a hotel, shops, and restaurants,” said Powers. “It would be similar to what you see in Burlington and Woburn (off of Route 128).
Another phase of the Powers Plan would be the construction of a new commuter rail station behind the Wonderland property and close to the former NECCO site.
“That would be the perfect spot for a commuter rail station (on the Gloucester/Rockport to North Station/Boston route),” said Powers, noting that neighboring cities Lynn and Chelsea have commuter rail stations.
Power envisions a day when
visitors from the North Shore would be able to disembark at the Wonderland
commuter station, walk over an enclosed pedestrian footbridge to the Wonderland
MBTA station, and board a train for the two-stop trip on the Blue Line to the
Suffolk Downs property that is being developed by The HYM Investment Group.
“Having a commuter station would also take airport-generated traffic off of Route 1A,” said Powers.
The councillor said the location of the Wonderland property is ideal. “It’s close to the airport and minutes to downtown Boston,” said Powers.
He said a new hotel would generate hundreds of jobs and hundreds of thousands of dollars in property, room-excise taxes and meal and beverage taxes.
“Comfort Inn alone gives us approximately $1 million a year in tax revenues,” said Powers.
He said most hotel rooms in Boston are very expensive and the new hotels being built in Revere are giving tourists a less expensive option.
Powers expects many inquiries from developers now that the Wonderland property is open and clearly visible from the highway.
“We’ve opened this site up, so potential developers may drive by and say, ‘that’s a wonderful piece of property, why isn’t something going there,’” said Powers.
One negative at the Wonderland site, according to Powers, is the many cars that remain parked on the Wonderland site.
“To just park cars here is not a positive use for the city of Revere,” he said.
Powers said he has discussed his plans for the development of the Wonderland site with Mayor Brian Arrigo “and we all seem to be on the same page, which is very encouraging news and very good for our city.”
Arrigo considers Wonderland an excellent site for development. “Wonderland’s location — just a walk from the Wonderland T station that connects to Logan Airport and downtown Boston–its size, and the potential for a new Commuter rail stop, raise it above other available pieces of property in the region,” said Arrigo. “While the Wonderland Dog Track served the city well during its heyday, the site now is brimming with possibility that will continue to expand Revere’s commercial tax base. In tandem with the imminent development of the Suffolk Downs site, the Wonderland site holds a key to the city’s future.”