Wonderland has been closed for almost a month.
The question arises – what to do with Wonderland?
Fifty-five acres of prime real estate close to Boston on public transportation would seem an easy sell but the property needs a reason to exist.
In addition, the city must carefully negotiate its new use with Wonderland’s owners.
The city can and should have a substantial say in whatever scheme the owners propose.
For the short term, meaning until January, Wonderland’s owners will not sell or lease the property.
The expanded gambling bill may come before the Legislature again between now and January.
Anything is possible in Massachusetts.
Wonderland’s owners, who are the owners of Suffolk Downs, never intended the track to be sold.
It was most likely to be used as an adjunct to a casino at Suffolk Downs.
A casino at Suffolk Downs remains a real possibility.
For the time being, Wonderland remains closed and except for car parking, it remains utterly empty – a shadow of what it used to be.
If the expanded gambling does not come to fruition, then Wonderland’s owners will sell the property to the highest bidder for the best use.
We’re not certain what that would be but it is unlikely a developer would buy the property to create new residential housing.
More likely than not the owners of Wonderland would sell it to a Lowes or a Wal-Mart.
On that spot, a Lowe’s or a Walmart or both would be welcome development.
It would mean at least $50 to $60 million in new construction, big building permit fees to the city, hundreds of unemployed tradesmen put back to work and when finished, hundreds of new jobs and a new revenue stream of tax dollars for the city.
Like the owners of Wonderland, we watch and we wait.
There is more waiting than anything else.
January will soon be here and decision to carry on with Wonderland or to sell it will have been made.
Time is of the essence.