City Looks to Partner With New Developers of Suffolk Downs Site

May 19, 2017
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By Sue Ellen Woodcock

Being billed as the largest development possibly ever on the North Shore when construction begins at the Suffolk Downs property, the project could take 10 or 15 years to be fully developed. Either way the development will have an impact on Revere for the next 50 years.

“It’s definitely an opportunity for transformational development at Suffolk Downs,” Mayor Brian Arrigo said.

He’s had a number of conversations with developers HYN and principles Tom O’Brien and Dino DiFronzo about the fact that they and city officials will be working together for a number of years.

“A lot of people are eager to work on this and a lot of people are jealous of the position I’m in,” Arrigo said in an office interview. “At the end of the day I’m interested in creating jobs for residents and commercial tax dollars for the city tax base.”

Of the 161 acres to be developed, 42 acres of the property are on the Revere side, and the rest in East Boston. O’Brien and DiFronzo don’t have any set plans yet for the development, but there is a strong likelihood it will be a combination of retail and residential. Both have been meeting with officials from Boston and Revere.

“It’s a testament to what’s happening in the region,” Arrigo said. “On a high level what we would be looking for is mixed use commercial development. Somehow we have lacked this over the years.”

Looking ahead at the proposed development, Arrigo sees this development as others do…legacy work…the thing that will have meaning for years to come.

“It can be transformational for the city for 20, 30 or even 40 years from now,” Arrigo said.

Arrigo wants to make sure whatever is developed on the site that it’s a place people will enjoy and see as a destination.

“The site is large enough to have a lot of different components such as entertainment, office, commercial or retail,” Arrigo said. “The size of the site lends itself to a lot of creativity.” According to zoning laws there will be open space built in to the property. Part of the site is also not buildable due to wetlands.

“There will probably be a yearlong planning process, starting at the T-stops and backing up to Route 1A,” Arrigo said. “We’re going to make sure it doesn’t become a parking lot. We want it to become a project that creates revenue and ends up being a destination.”

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