The Amazon Bid Is In; Now the Waiting Game

October 27, 2017
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What would Revere be like if Amazon landed on the Suffolk Down property? According to Mayor Brian Arrigo it would be transformative.

“This is an opportunity to envision the future of Suffolk Downs and plan for a dynamic, mixed-use neighborhood that will serve as a revitalized anchor for Revere and Boston for decades to come,” Arrigo said. “At Suffolk Downs, Amazon’s HQ2 can be surrounded by retail, restaurants, recreational facilities, open space and nightlife.”

Just last Friday,  the city of Boston and the city of Revere partnered to submit a bid to bring Amazon’s second headquarters to Suffolk Downs that celebrates the talented workforce, diverse communities, strong connectivity and transportation infrastructure, and culture of innovation in Boston and the surrounding region.  Boston submitted a 210-page proposal to Amazon on why the retail giant should make Suffolk Downs the next site for its second headquarters. Included in the proposal was a section from the city of Revere since 42 acres sits in Revere.

The total site is 161 acres and is owned by HYM Investment Group. Amazon expects to invest over $5 billion in construction and grow this second headquarters to include as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs over the next 15 years.

“We are confident that Amazon will not find a better location in North America for a second headquarters than Suffolk Downs,” said Arrigo. “This 161-acre, shovel-ready site, located along two MBTA stops just minutes from downtown Boston, Logan Airport, and the world’s best colleges and universities, represents an opportunity for Amazon to anchor a transformative mixed-use community.”

Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo thanked Mayors Walsh and Arrigo for their incredible insight and leadership.

“With our spirit of partnership, support for programs that prepare the innovators of tomorrow, and the remarkable logistical assets of Suffolk Downs, our proposal is uniquely situated to meet Amazon’s specifications and bring jobs to our area,” DeLeo said.

“I ran for Mayor to help build a 21st century economy for the City of Revere, and we’re doing just that,” continued Arrigo. “With the NECCO site being redeveloped as a hub of innovative industries such as advanced manufacturing, robotics and life sciences, and with record commercial investment on Revere Beach coming in the next two years, the transformation of Revere’s economy is underway. Bringing a company like Amazon to Suffolk Downs would accelerate this transformation and deliver substantial jobs and revenue for Revere.”

It was pointed out in the proposal that the East Boston and Revere site has tremendous redevelopment opportunity, particularly given the Blue Line extends through this area heading north through former industrial and other underutilized areas. Many large dense residential developments have been recently constructed in East Boston and Revere, particularly along the East Boston waterfront and along the 3-mile long Revere Beach. In addition, East Boston and Revere are considered a “Gateway to the North Shore”, where a number of small cities and suburban towns are a further diversity of housing types many of which are within easy commuting distance of the site. Nearly 9,000 new housing units are in planning processes in North Shore communities.

Revere City Council Vice President Patrick Keefe said Revere is already a great city and the addition of Amazon would add to the dynamic of what Revere can offer to region as a major city on the North Shore.

“Our infrastructure and roadway ways would have significant improvements,” Keefe said. “It would pretty much guarantee a commuter line stop in Revere and possibly a water taxi/working pier on the beach. I can only imagine the ability for Revere to invest in more public safety and education upgrades without costing homeowners any tax increases.”

Ward 1 Councillor Joanne McKenna agreed with Keefe on fixing old infrastructure, including Donnelly Square. She also mentioned the impact Amazon could have in addressing the city’s image and reputation.

“We could turn the image of Revere into one of the most desirable places to come to in Massachusetts,” McKenna said. “I also believe the monies brought in to the city will help us achieve the building of a new high school,”

Keefe was realistic in thinking that the Boston/Revere proposal is one of 200 proposals submitted from across the country.

“I think being partnered with Boston in this process will show more Fortune 500 companies that Revere is open for business and garner more looks in the very near future for additional commercial developers,” Keefe said.

HYM owner Thomas O’Brien said his firm’s development plan is the same with or without Amazon.

“Obviously we feel really good,” said O’Brien. “Boston proposed such a good bid. When you review what some of the other cities prepared I think you will find both Mayor Walsh and Mayor Arrigo put together a really strong bid. With that said our plan is the same with or without Amazon. At the end of the day we want to build a large mixed use development with amenities and greenspace that is second to none.”

O’Brien said Amazon would require up to 100 acres for its HQ2 proposal and Suffolk Downs is really the only place in Boston that can accommodate that ask.

If Boston wins the bid and Amazon needs the 100 acres that would leave HYM with 61 acres to build on. O’Brien said that the reaming 61 acres is still a significant chuck of developable land and pointed to Assembly Row, which hoovers around 45 acres.

“However, we are holding fast on our commitments to greenspace, a strong retail component and workforce housing,” said O’Brien. “We want to make sure the open space gets delivered, retail gets delivered, housing gets delivered. But those are the things Amazon is looking for and if you read their RFP they want to go to an interesting community with interesting retail and open space. I think Amazon is going to like East Boston and Revere because they want to be in a real place and not some industrial park off a highway.”

“If Amazon does not inhibit the principal Suffolk Downs redevelopment project or take too much acreage, then it probably would be a good thing for East Boston and Revere,” said Gove Street Citizens Association Co-Chair Jack Scalcione.

Chair of the Harbor View Neighborhood Association Matthew Barison said his members made clear that any development must be coupled with major infrastructure investments, such as improvements to Route 1A, increased capacity and expansion of the Blue Line, and potential water transportation.

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