By John Lynds
Rumors are swirling that Suffolk Downs owners have inked a deal with a local developer to develop all, most or some of the 160-acre racetrack but track officials have been mum.
Reports have been surfacing all week stating with a report in the Boston Herald that Suffolk Downs had entered into a purchase and sale agreement with a buyer that has been eying the track.
The Boston Globe then expanding on the Herald report that a group led by former Boston Redevelopment Authority chief Tom O’Brien was the one that had signed the purchase and sale agreement. O’Brien leads the Boston-based HYM Investment Group known for being a key player in the development of a 45-acre former rail yard in East Cambridge known as NorthPoint.
However, despite the rumors flying, Suffolk Downs COO Chip Tuttle tried to throw water on the rising flames surrounding the scuttlebutt over the tracks future.
In BloodHorse’s online magazine, a horse racing trade publication, Tuttle said there is no agreement in place to sell Suffolk Downs to a real estate developer.
“We don’t have any news.” Chip Tuttle told BloodHorse. “We’ve been fielding interest in the property for almost the last nine months and we told the Massachusetts Gaming Commission in November that one of the options we’re exploring is the sale of the property. Nothing has changed. If and when we have any news on that front, we’ll be happy to share it.”
Tuttle’s comments added another level of confusion over whether Suffolk Downs is about to be sold or not and had no further comment on the matter.
With that said, both Mayor Martin Walsh and Rep. Adrian Madaro said it was only a matter of time before the racetrack, the site of a failed casino license bid a few years back, was scooped up and developed given it’s ideal urban location. Other large dormant sites like Station Landing in Medford and Assembly Row in Somerville have recently been redeveloped to great fanfare and have become the benchmark for modern urban design.
However, both elected officials as well as City Councilor Sal LaMattina said they all want to see robust community process that includes Eastie’s vision for the racetrack that works not only for a developer but for the entire community as well as neighboring Revere. Revere Mayor Brian Arrigo added that, “a collaborative effort between Boston and Revere will shape the further of the 160-acre property.”