After a seven hour long marathon Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) board meeting and housing advocates calling for the BPDA to delay the vote, the board unanimously approved HYM Development’s project to transform the historic 161-acre Suffolk Downs site in Eastie and Revere into a mixed-use development.
The project, which will be one of the largest developments in Boston history, will include 10,000 units of housing, almost 3 million square feet of office and retail space, and create an estimated 18,810 new construction jobs and 22,000 new permanent jobs.
According to HYM and the BPDA Suffolk Downs will deliver the largest amount of affordable units for a development through 930 on-site affordable units and 500 off-site units, totaling approximately 20 percent of its units. In addition, the project will be contributing $400,000 to a rent stabilization fund to assist local residents with rent payments during this COVID-19 crisis.
“We are pleased to have the confidence and approval of the Board, and grateful to all the members of the East Boston and Revere communities who have participated in the public review process and helped shape the project over the last several years,” said Thomas O’Brien, founding partner and managing director of The HYM Investment Group. “We have a tremendous opportunity to create this new neighborhood from the ground up, and for Suffolk Downs to serve as a model of how to thoughtfully design a modern development with climate resiliency, transit access, housing and public space in mind. We look forward to moving ahead towards building a new future at Suffolk Downs, creating housing, improved transit, and jobs for residents and the Greater Boston community.”
Thursday’s vote marks the end of a three-year community review process, during which HYM has held over 450 meetings with community group members, elected officials and staff, and neighbors to hear and incorporate community feedback.
Some key provisos HYM agreed to ahead of the BPDA’s vote include:
An increase from 13% to 20% in the total affordable housing
A $5 million housing stabilization fund independently controlled by East Boston with continued funding over the course of the project
A wider range of incomes and more family sized units
Immediate rent relief for East Boston families up to $800,000, with $400,000 coming immediately after the vote
The site will be held to the standards of the upcoming fair housing amendment to the zoning code which will ensure housing for seniors, working families, and people with disabilities at the site for generations
Publicly owned streets and sidewalks. Park space deeded to the city. First amendment protections on privately owned publicly accessible space.
A Carbon Net Zero feasibility study with a commitment to pursue funding to implement the results of the study
Updates to city zoning regarding environmental standards will apply to the site
A Belle Isle Marsh visitor impact study and funding for an additional ranger at the marsh
A Project Labor Agreement to guarantee union jobs for the construction
$1 million for workforce development and and ESL classes for East Boston families
$1 million for apprenticeship programs to get East Boston residents into the trades
Expanded vocational education for East Boston residents and priority in the hiring process
Daycare facilities on-site to support our families
$200,000 for a learn-to-swim program for East Boston children
An Implementation IAG to ensure compliance with agreements
Continuous review to ensure commitments are being met before new buildings can be built
In addition to planning an infrastructure that encourages walking and biking as viable transit options, HYM has committed $20 million in funding for public transit improvements in East Boston and Revere that will go towards Blue Line enhancements, Beachmont Station upgrades, Suffolk Downs Station reconstruction, and Better Bus improvements, and $41 million in funding for Route 1A upgrades and intersection improvements.
HYM has committed to funding the annual operating costs of an additional Blue Line train for 15 years and will include the design and construction of a new major extension of the Mary Ellen Welch Greenway. Sen. Joseph Boncore, who represents Eastie and Revere said after the vote, “HYM’s development at Suffolk Downs has the potential to transform the race of East Boston over the next 20 years,” said Senator Joseph Boncore, who represents Eastie and Revere. “Recognizing this potential, our delegation has worked to ensure this project meets the affordable housing and transportation needs of our community. Still, given the long term nature of the development, it is critical that we continue to work together as a community in partnership with the City of Boston to continue to hold HYM accountable to these needs.”