By Sue Ellen Woodcock
HYM Investments has filed a notice of intent with the city, offering to work with city officials in regards to the development at Suffolk Downs – whether or not the primary business on this site could be Amazon.
Tom O’Brien, founding partner and managing director of the HYM Investment Group, appeared before the City Council Monday night to give an update on his work, and to deliver a notice of intent to the city.
O’Brien stated in the letter: “over the last several months, HYM has engaged with and met with a wide range of stakeholders from Revere and East Boston, representatives of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and other stakeholders regarding the redevelopment of the site. We are now moving forward with the formal permitting process in the City of Revere, concurrently with commencement of permitting efforts with the Commonwealth and the City of Boston. To commence the process in Revere, we intend to submit an application for a zoning amendment in early 2018. We look forward to working with the mayor’s office, Revere City Council and the larger Revere community to move forward with this unique redevelopment opportunity,” developers stated in the letter of intent.
The site currently includes a 161-acre, underutilized, thoroughbred horse-racing facility located within Revere and East Boston. Approximately 52 acres of the site are in Revere, and approximately 109 acres are in East Boston. Existing facilities at the site include a clubhouse, grandstand, racetrack, administration building, maintenance buildings, horse barns and large surface parking areas.
In the letter, O’Brien said redevelopment of the Suffolk Downs site provides a unique opportunity to develop a new mixed-use district that will spur significant economic development, create new retail activity, increase housing opportunities, and materially improve connections between several adjoining neighborhoods. HYM proposes that the project include various improvements and benefits for the are and City of Revere, as follows:
- Development of a new neighborhood with an active, lively and appropriate mix of uses (including, office, lab, hotel, retail, residential, parking and other uses), connected and supported by new open space, neighborhood retail and civic spaces;
Provision of an extensive approximately 40-acre publicly-accessible open space system which will include existing wetland features and both active and passive recreation areas;
Incorporation of extensive street-front retail anchored by two, new retail squares, Beachmont Square in Revere and Belle Isle Square in East Boston, as well as a new connecting “Main Street” retail district;
- Construction of a new district attractive to employers of growing industries, which will enhance and expand job creation and economic opportunity;
- Creation of an innovation node at Beachmont Square, to establish and attract new economy tenants to the project and the City of Revere;
“It’s important to get the retail right,” O’Brien told the council.
- Incorporation of various kinds of housing to meet the needs of surrounding neighborhoods, including townhouses, apartments, condominiums, and senior housing;
- Application of transit-oriented development principles, through integration of the two existing adjacent MBTA Blue Line stations and alternative travel modes including new bicycle path connections and subway stations;
- Development of improved connections to adjacent neighborhoods of Revere and East Boston through the site, including along new open space and pedestrian and bicycle pathways; and,
- Incorporation of forward-thinking climate change and resilience strategies intended to address the possible future sea-level rise, and other impacts of climate change.
The site is in the PDD1 district and is allowed additional development by special permit which increases the square footage of as-of-right development to 6.8 million square feet. Building height would range from 180-250 feet depending on use and location.
The developers also seek to create a new overlay district called the Suffolk Downs Overlay District (SDOD).
Ward 1 Councillor Joanne McKenna has been meeting with principals O’Brien and Dino DiFronzo, discussing the project, and the impact and importance of Beachmont in the plan. As a result she was able to get HYM to paint the fence running the length of Winthrop Avenue from the shopping center to the train.
McKenna also thanked O’Brien for securing a bus run she had requested from Beachmont Station to the Target/Stop and Shop shopping area. Service is expected to start in the spring.
O’Brien said the front door to the development will be in Beachmont and Orient Heights.
O’Brien also estimated that the Suffolk Downs Project will bring in $35 million in tax revenue.
A few weeks ago, Councillor George Rotondo asked to have HYM give monthly updates and the principals cordially agreed.
“We’re happy to come back anytime,” O’Brien said.
He said the site is one mile wide and he envisions connecting areas with open space.
“I want it fully connected to Beachmont, we have even put an offer in to purchase Beachmont Roast Beef,” he said. “We promised from the start that this would be 50 percent commercial and 50 percent residential.”
He would also like to see a building in Beachmont for an innovation center.
“Similar to one we have done in the Seaport District,” O’Brien said.
When asked about the proposal for Amazon, O’Brien said he thinks they will hear something in the next three to four weeks.