City leaders made their case for investing in Revere last Friday, showcasing the City with a presentation about how Revere – despite not getting the casino – is still poised for great things.
Mayor Dan Rizzo announced his second Economic Development Summit with Economic Development Director John Festa in September shortly after not prevailing in the casino license battle. Both, at the time, said it was important to remind the public and the development community about all the things that are happening and that could potentially happen in Revere.
“The gaming license did not go our way, but that does not mean the City of Revere now has nothing to offer,” said Mayor Rizzo on Friday. “We are poised and equally as strong today as the day before the gaming decision was made. The two sites left from that – Suffolk Downs and Wonderland Track – are two of the most valuable sites in metro Boston and I know good things are going to happen there.”
Added Festa, “We know our attributes…but felt coming in we needed to do a better marketing job.”
That is what the first Summit was all about in 2012, and it’s what last Friday’s update was also about.
The Summit took place at the Showcase Cinemas Friday morning through the afternoon and attracted elected officials from Lt. Gov.-Elect Karyn Polito to Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone to House Speaker Bob DeLeo.
Those in the audience took in the four-hour program with interest, noting new initiatives, ongoing projects and key open parcels ripe for development.
One part of the Summit included a video made using a flying drone to film the City from a birds-eye view. Sites all over the city – from the Beach to the crucial Squire Road corridor – were shown on the movie screen as the drone flew over.
That said, the most compelling part of the Summit was the testimonies from developers who have completed projects in Revere or who are currently working on projects.
EuroVest Director and Revere resident Joe DiGangi was highlighted in that portion of the Summit. His project, the expansive $500 million Waterfront Square, was highlighted as a major game-changer going on right now on Revere’s hidden jewel – Revere Beach.
In addition to DiGangi, his development partners – including the national firms Covington and Upton – gave testimony.
Walter Upton – who is in line to break ground on a 230-unit apartment building later this spring – said he became acquainted with Revere Beach when someone drove him out to look at the new parking garage. He said the friend drove him to the top level of the garage and they looked out over the ocean and towards the nearby Boston skyline.
“I immediately called Joe DiGangi to find out more about it and being the skeptical developer, I felt like there had to be a rat in the woodpile somewhere here,” he said. “Joe told me there wasn’t and presented me with 900 pages of [environmental] documents…Long story short, there’s no rat in the woodpile…We feel privileged to be here.”
Said Covington’s Lou Minicucci, “Developing real estate in Massachusetts is a very difficult thing. It’s not unusual for a development to take two years for entitlements and permits. Here in Revere, we did it in six months…Revere officials have been great. They’re straight shooters and they give you the time of day and they return phone calls.”
Another hot development success story was the opening of the new Market Basket in Northgate. Joe Schmidt, operations supervisor from Market Basket, told the crowd that opening the Revere store was very important to their company, as it was the first store to open since the last summer’s trouble at the company.
“City officials let us know our company was important to them and worked to help us out every step of the way,” he said. “They made it easy to do business here.”
Others who spoke included Ann Houston of The Neighborhood Developers; Ariel Andrews of Boston Harley; State Sen. Tom McGee; Congresswoman Katherine Clark; State Sen. Anthony Petruccelli; State Rep. RoseLee Vincent; DeLeo; Curtatone; and Polito.
Closing out the presentation was Suffolk Downs owner Richard Fields – who also controls the Wonderland Dog Track site – who said Revere has a bit of “magic” he has rarely seen.
“I’m not here today to talk about success stories, but what happens when things don’t go as planned,” he said. “I’m going to talk to you about something you’re not going to read about, and that’s the spirit of the people. We’ve been here now for years and there’s a can-do spirit here of getting things done. You can’t find that everywhere. I’ve been all over the country doing this and there’s something magic here. I haven’t seen it anywhere else except for maybe where I grew up in a town in the Bronx – which is maybe why I identify so closely with Revere.”
The day finished with a luncheon in the lobby of the theatre where participants were able to reflect on the information and presentation.