HYM proposes to build $500 million life science center at Suffolk Downs

Thomas O’Brien, managing partner of The HYM Investment Group, the real estate company redeveloping the Suffolk Downs site, told the Revere City Council Monday that HYM will be building a $500 million life science center on the Revere portion of the Suffolk Downs property.

O’Brien gave a 40-minute presentation and update on the project, during which he announced the change in plans to build a five-story, 133-feet tall, life science center on Parcels R/10 and R/11, instead of the residential building that had been originally proposed. The plan to build two other residential buildings (with retail space on the first floor) and a hotel on the Revere portion of the site will go forward.

Revere city councillors enthusiastically supported the change in plans.

A “transformational” project and “good news” for the city

Mayor Brian Arrigo introduced O’Brien’s segment at the meeting.

“I want to thank Tom and his team for the incredible work they have done and everyone from city staff to residents who took their time out to be part of our development advisory group, and the City Council for their support of the vision at Suffolk Downs,” said Arrigo. “Time and time again, I’ve called the redevelopment of this site ‘transformational.’ We’ve always talked about the fact that this is about jobs and economic growth for our residents. With the careful planning that happened and the really strenuous work that Tom and his team and the City of Revere and the City have taken, we’re very happy to have a project update here that has some good news. Revere is now on the map for life sciences for office and lab space and we’re proud to say that the first phase of this project in Revere will include lab and office life science space.”

The specifics about

life science center

O’Brien began his remarks by commending Arrigo as “a wonderful partner to us on everything that we’ve working on at Suffolk Downs.” He also thanked the City Council for being “great partners” as well.

O’Brien updated the Council on the project, stating that HYM completed the state and city permitting process in the fall of 2020.

O’Brien said when his development team assembled in January, 2021, “we looked at one another and given where things are from the pandemic perspective, one of things that has clearly happened in Boston is that the life science business has expanded quite a bit and the life science companies are looking for places for “high-end” manufacturing of very specific kinds of pharmaceutical products that companies have been working on for some period of time.”

O’Brien said in January, HYM put a team together and “we’ve put together a design of a two-parcel project that we can think can be well suited to life science.”

After updating the Council on the 60,000-square-foot commercial office building (innovation building), and the 25,000 square-feet of retail and 475 units of residence planned for Phase I of the project, O’Brien offered the specifics of the life science center proposal.

“Those two parcels, Parcels R/10 and R/11, were originally envisioned as residential parcels,” said O’Brien. “R/10 and R/11 are [now] projected to be lab and office and manufacturing facilities.”

According to O’Brien, the construction of the life science center could be completed by 2023.

“This [life science center building] is a big investment,” O’Brien told the Council. “This is probably $500 million, a half billion dollars, of commercial office building with lab and office and high-end manufacturing. So this is a really, big investment that we’re making at the site, but we think it’s warranted and we feel very confident that this is the kind of project that can make an impact on the life science market and make Suffolk Downs a really attractive place for the next group of companies that want to locate and make this their campus.”

O’Brien stated that the building will be 500,000 square feet, with the first two floors dedicated to high-end manufacturing, the next two floors dedicated to laboratory space, and the upper floor dedicated to office and vivarium space, “which is some kind of live-animal space that can be used for experiments on drugs and things like that.”

O’Brien said the height of the five-story building will be approximately 130 feet. There will be 240 contained parking spaces on two levels and two loading docks with nine loading bays.

Councillors praise

new plans for site

City Council President Anthony Zambuto seemed particularly excited about the plans to build a new life science center on the Suffolk Downs property and the redevelopment plans in general.

“This is just so exciting,” began Zambuto. “I want to shout from the rooftops that we’ve got life science coming to Revere and we have HYM to thank for that. I hope a lot of people are watching this meeting tonight because the naysayers for years have been saying that this could never happen in Revere. Well, guess what. This project has happened in Revere. This project is unbelievable.”

Councillor-at-Large George Rotondo, who works in the health field as a nurse, thanked O’Brien “for bringing life sciences to Revere.”

“This is exactly what the city needs, someone to bring a new life to our community, more importantly in technology, whether it be life sciences or AI (Artificial Intelligence), to come to a community like Revere that is willing to work with developers like yourself, but more importantly companies that you bring to the table. This is remarkable.”

 Councillor-at-Large George Visconti agreed with Arrigo’s assessment that the Suffolk Donws project is “truly transformational.”

“It’s unbelievable. The presentation was great,” said Visconti, who then asked O’Brien about the residential/commercial breakdown of the property.

O’Brien said Phase I of the Project will now likely have a split of “more like 40 (percent residential) and 60 (percent commercial).”

Ward 4 Councillor Patrick Keefe said to O’Brien, “I’m glad you’re coming with good news.”

“It is still early in the stage of this entire development, but you have lived up to your end of the bargain and we have no reason to believe that you won’t continue to do that. It’s been really great so far and I just want to commend you and thank you,” added Keefe.

Ward 6 Councillor Richard Serino lauded HYM’s efforts to secure a life science center for the property.

Councillor-at-Large Steven Morabito asked whether there were still plans to build indoor and outdoor [performance] venues on the Suffolk Downs property. O’Brien responded that the plans are for a park and outdoor venue “and we’re also working toward an indoor venue as well.”

Ward 1 Councillor Joanne McKenna, in whose district the Revere portion of the property is located, said the City “has established a great working relationship with HYM” during the planning process.

“And I was so excited to hear about the life science building that’s coming,” said McKenna. “I look forward to this coming about and continuing our working relationship.”

Ward 3 Councillor Arthur Guinasso called the life science center “a wonderful idea and a great plus for our community.”

Councillors John Powers voiced his support of the plans for the Suffolk Downs redevelopment project.

“From Day 1 I had full faith in your project,” said Powers. “I’m completely pleased with your presentation. I think this is something that has been long overdue in the City of Revere. I want to thank the Mayor and his team for working with you, as the City Council did, to make this a reality.”

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