Last Wednesday, HYM Investment Group’s Founding Partner and Managing DirectorTom O’Brien joined Revere and East Boston elected officials to cut the ribbon for the new “The Track at Suffolk Downs” public open space.
For the first time in the history of the thoroughbred racetrack, residents from Revere and neighboring communities can now walk, jog or take their dogs down to the historic mile-long racing oval. O’Brien said HYM also plans to hold a series of community events and activities throughout the year.
O’Brien said HYM, who is redeveloping the entire 161 acre site into a mixed-use development over the next two decades, will begin the first phase of the redevelopment of the site later this year.
“But really for us the most important part of today is we’re opening this track for public access,” said O’Brien at last week’s ribbon cutting. “For years and years and years people have come to this track and have looked out onto this track, as well as the beautiful infield, and we began to think about how great it would be to kind of walk around the track and get a sense of how big the infield is and get a sense of how big the site is. Today we’re opening the track to public access. This gives people the chance to come down here and run on the track or run on the inside turf or walk on the infield or bring a dog down and walk with a dog. You can really enjoy this place and explore the whole track and have a great time doing it. The track is now open to the public from dawn until dusk from today on, which we’re really excited about.”
The track will also serve as a satellite location for the first sand sculpture as part of this year’s annual Revere Beach International Sand Sculpting Festival, one of the largest sand sculpting festivals in the world. The sculpture will be on view to the public until August 8,
Beginning August 1st, The Track will also be hosting a run club every other Sunday at 10 a.m. These guided 30-40 minute runs around the track are led by live DJ and Run Instructor Chris Cappozzi, and all fitness levels are welcome.
O’Brien said more activations and events will be announced in the coming weeks.
The ribbon cutting also unveiled an art installation titled “The Window Walk” by Artists For Humanity, a Boston-based organization that provides under-resourced teens the keys to self-sufficiency through paid employment in art and design.
The Window Walk leverages the vast length of windows at Suffolk Downs and creates six different experiences that are in alignment with the future of the public space and that they hope will resonate with viewers. O’Brien said the Artists For Humanity installation will be live for the foreseeable future.
“Artists For Humanity has partnered on hundreds of wonderfully creative projects during it’s now 30 years of mentoring and employing Boston teens in art and design,” said Richard Frank from Artists For Humanity. “But none has been as large, and ambitious, as the transformation of an iconic racetrack into a new, vibrant community. The Window Walk at Suffolk Downs is a perfect example of connecting a progressive, values-based company [HYM] and a creative teen arts enterprise to build more inclusive spaces that express young, imaginative voices and invite all to participate in the fun,” “We look forward to the evolution of this new space, beginning with the public space at the Track, and hope it’s an example to everyone of what thoughtful companies [HYM] and underrepresented, but skilled and talented teens [at Artists For Humanity] can build together.”
Plans for the redevelopment of Suffolk Downs received approval from the Boston Planning and Development Agency in 2020 and the Revere City Council in 2018. Approved plans for the project include 16.2 million square feet of development including 10,000 residential units and over 6 million square feet of life science, office, street level retail and publicly accessible parks that will be developed over the next two decades.
“I was a new mayor when Tom (O’Brien) came in but what was really clear was the ability for Tom to communicate with everyone that’s behind me and the city councilors and all the folks from state and local partners that made today possible and the future possible here at Suffolk Downs,” said Revere Mayor Brian Arrigo. “I want to thank you for welcoming us here to celebrate the grand opening of the track at Suffolk Downs. I also want to thank the City of Boston for their partnership in helping develop Suffolk Downs not only into a new neighborhood but also as a link between our two communities. The City of Revere has been a site of recreation for the Commonwealth for a very long time.”
Arrigo said while Revere Beach continues to welcome families, over the past two decades the city has seen dog and horse racing shutdown at both Wonderland and Suffolk Downs.
“These two sites are really important for the City of Revere,” said Arrigo. “They established our identity in the region and provided employment and recreation opportunities for all of our citizens. The grand opening that we’re here to commemorate, and it’s with a rich sense of both continuity and innovation, that this project today marks the first time in the history of this site, that the one-mile oval will be open regularly to the public to come walk, run, exercise or just hang out. This track offers our residents some very familiar luxuries of accessibility, alongside an expanded sense of what a public space can and should look like. The track also represents the good faith effort that HYM has made to make sure that the development of Suffolk Downs prioritizes the needs of both current and future residents. While the track itself is only temporary it offers the city a promise of the continued benefit that we will see on this site as construction continues. Boasting not only biotech space and commercial real estate, and mixed income housing, Suffolk Downs, most importantly, will be the home to public amenities that will transform the landscape and offer new places for our residents to congregate and for neighbors both new and old to get together.”