Breathing New Life into Suffolk Downs

It all began back in 2017 with a Letter of Intent. With this letter, HYM Investment Group proposed a large scale redevelopment of the approximately 160 acres of the Suffolk Downs race track site located along William F. McClellan Highway where East Boston meets Revere in Massachusetts. They envisioned transforming the site into a highly-resilient, transit-oriented, mixed-use development with commercial office, retail, housing, and open space. At this time, the race track was still operational, so this was a visionary move, rethinking the utilization of this site to a completely different use. Their proposal, alongside Stoss as the urban design firm, included a multi-phased development of a mixed-use neighborhood, a 40-acre publicly accessible open space, and two retail squares. Phase 1 was proposed to include corporate and amenity space, three residential buildings, a portion of the proposed total townhomes, and construction of the Horseshoe Pond landscaped wetland enhancements and Belle Isle Square public plaza with ground floor retail. 

Due to the low-lying elevation of the site, plans for the site rely on forward-thinking principles to effectively manage for climate change and sea-level rise. Design for the landscape and open space includes resiliency planning based on Climate Ready Boston principles. The site also includes low-lying protected wetlands subject to the impacts of sea-level rise, and as a result master planning efforts incorporate integrated strategies to address climate change and mitigate flooding

This plan incorporates a system of interlocking canals that serve to channel water during both tidal and storm events. Wetlands and salt marshes are preserved at the edges to provide a natural barrier and incorporate natural ecology into the site. Waterways incorporated throughout the site channel water to a central green that acts as a catch basin and infiltration site able to accommodate water from a 100-year storm event. When not holding water, the site acts as an amphitheater providing an active space available for programming. 

Fast forward to now, after years of planning, construction is finally underway on the first building on site. Construction of a 280,000 square foot life science and biomanufacturing facility is currently underway on the Revere side of the project, with biomanufacturing on its first two floors and research and development labs on the three floors above. There will also be retail and restaurant space on the ground floor. Additionally, plans to start construction on a 470-unit apartment building are upcoming within the next couple of months. Both this first lab and residential building are expected to wrap up construction by the end of 2023 with tenants moving in to the biotech facility by mid-2024. 

Interested in reading more about this project? Check out this resource from the Boston Planning and Development Agency which outlines each milestone the project in great detail and allows you to track the progress of the project in real time.

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