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BPDA approves Suffolk Downs mega-development

The new Suffolk Downs

The new Suffolk Downs. Chelsea Creek, existing fuel tanks at the top. See it larger.

The BPDA board approved developer HYM's plans to transform the old Suffolk Downs race track over two decades into a new community on the East Boston/Revere line that will ultimately mean 10,000 apartments, condos and single-family homes and enough office, retail and hotel space to provide 25,000 new jobs.

The unanimous vote came at the end of a meeting that started Thursday and ended early this morning.

Revere approved HYM's plans for its side of the 161-acre parcel - which will include roughly 3,000 of the new housing units - in 2018.

About 40 acres will be set aside as public space - much of it designed to double as containment areas for the flood waters that might come to a low-lying area with rising sea levels and more severe storms. The open space will include ball fields, tennis and basketball courts, five playgrounds and five bocce courts.

In addition to the parkland, HYM will try to stave off floodwaters by elevating the entire site, designing garages with below-ground levels that can double as flood-retention spaces and by designing first floors of buildings to withstand inundation.

Some 930 of the housing units on the Boston side will be rented or sold as affordable, aimed at people making between 40% and 100% of the Boston area median income. The company will also pay into a BPDA fund to subsidize rents at 500 apartments in the rest of East Boston and will give Boston 50,000 square feet of land for future affordable-housing construction. In total, that represents 20% of the project's total housing units, compared to the normal Boston requirement of 13%.

HYM will also pay $5 million into a fund aimed at helping existing East Boston residents stay in their homes - and more immediately $400,000 into a fund to help East Boston residents having problems making rent due to Covid-19. Some 10% of the total units will be aimed at senior citizens.

When built out, the Suffolk Downs site will have 500,000 square feet of retail space, with 50,000 of that set aside for locally owned businesses, and some 2.5 million square feet of office space.

HYM will spend $20 million in fixing up the Blue Line in general and reconstructing the Beachmont and Suffolk Downs stops in particular. It will pay the T $3.15 million over 15 years.

The company will also spend a total of $61 million to improve some 30 nearby intersections and Rte. 1A and will run a shuttle bus to the Suffolk Downs T stop and eventually to downtown Boston.

HYM will also install solar panels on building rooftops and will set aside 25% of the roughly 15,000 planned parking spaces, most of it in garages, for electric and plug-in vehicles.

Suffolk Downs filings with the BPDA, includes renderings and details of the proposed project.

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Something there. Not ideal but something.

HYM seems to be playing good neighbor with all its add ons (i.e. parks, space for public housing, 400k immediate to helping rents)


20 year project, for those that are in the 50 year old bracket and you want to live at Suffolk downs 20 years down the road, you just better put your name for the old folks home that they’ll be building at Suffolk.

The juxtaposition of the gleaming new development next to the giant field of oil tanks always gets me. Maybe one day they can move it and clean/develop that site.


A view of an oil refinery will add variety. Previously they were forced to choose between either a view of a superhighway or a view of the mega-condo across the alley.


But 'it takes a village'. Without the development, the need for the tanks to be gone is removed. I doubt it will ever be moved due to it being filled from barges coming up the creek. They could do some thing creative and hide it (i.e. high walls with murals)

But I say the same about alot of complexes.

One North (Chelsea) - Living next to US 1 and an active rail line (where the trains use horns!)

Old Charleston Chew Complex - Why? Its near nothing

Cabot Road, Medford - It's near nothing.. except the T.


I can see the gleaming domes of those desolate and mysterious looking fuel tanks from my East Boston window. The view always reminds me of the 1973 David Bowie song "Drive In Saturday" about a dystopian future where survivors of an unnamed nuclear disaster are unable (or have forgotten how) to reproduce:

"Perhaps the strange ones in the dome
Can lend us a book we can read up alone
And try to get it on like once before
When people stared in Jagger's eyes and scored
Like the video films we saw"

They don't write 'em like that anymore. :-)

I'd be at the windows putting some cash down that there will be no residences in this development with an address on Tomasello Way. Most likely the office space will be overlooking the tanks.

But the site won't be developable for the same reason that the tanks will have to be moved: sea level rise.

It will be a coastal wetland restoration.

There isn't much chance that anything that would be put there is going to possibly meet resiliency guidelines that will go into effect in a few years.


Fuel tanks are trendy.


Why don't they built one giant ark?

Less than 10% of the units are set aside for affordable. And "affordable" actually just means middle class (100% of the Boston area median income is $70).

So this is 90% luxury apartments?


Nope, not 10. You might be thinking of the senior citizen part. Overall, it's 20 percent of you include the land set aside and other commitments.


Are not charities - they can't sell a condo to you for $100,000 when it costs them $600,000 to build.


entitled to whatever land they decide they want. especially not when it will have such a massive negative impact on existing residents.

Anything new is inherently "luxury" compared to older stock. It's a pointless distinction.

The fastest way to universally affordable housing is 10,000 new units on the market. This project needed to be approved years ago.


more housing supply does not mean lower prices. not when that supply attracts new demand and starts out more expensive than anyone living nearby could possibly afford.

this project is designed to force lifetime East Boston residents out. or have you not seen what has happened to Eastie over the last 10 years?


It is jobs and schools, not housing, that attracts people to live here, and if we don't build the housing for those people who are coming here for the jobs, they don't just stay away. They come here anyway and they displace the people who are already living here. We need new housing developments like Suffolk Downs to soak up that demand for more expensive housing and keep those people from buying apartments in places like Eastie and flipping them.

And a note about affordability: Building new housing is expensive. If we require developers to rent a significant portion of the units in their project to people who can't afford to pay what it cost to build them, that means the remaining units have to he even more expensive so as to cover the cost of that subsidy. I personally would prefer a lot of middle income housing rather than a small amount of housing for the very poor and a large amount of housing for the very rich. Wouldn't you?


Another unnecessarily huge development potentially raising the population of East Boston by 20%.

Traffic will be impacted, although many commenters here will deny it or pretend that public transportation and bicycles will be the answer.

Why not a neighborhood with 1-2-3 family houses with a few larger buildings.

it's not intended to fit in with East Boston, it's not intended to actually provide housing, it's a business meant to serve the Texas oil billionaire who owns it.

that's why it doesn't make sense.

And when you don't build the homes for those people who are moving here anyway, where do you think they go? Do you think they just stay away? Or do they buy houses in the distant suburbs (the only place they can afford) thus driving up traffic even more? It's called sprawl, and it definitely doesn't help our congestion problems.

That looks like a jimble-jamble of buildings. WTF; An Architect did that?


Take heart, the basement will be underwater before they're finished

Unless you have a Canoe.

needs a complete rebuild, extension to Lynn, and a third set of tracks to run express trains, at least between Airport and Revere Beach. Renovating a couple of stations is a good start, but capacity needs to be substantially increased. Plan it now or this project will be worse than the Seaport.


The Blue line, now with the signal work at Maverick, has been completely redone. It has new signals and crossings. And some of the more reliable cars on the T's fleet.

In fact, Suffolk downs is now one of the *oldest* stations on the line.. well in order of remodel. It was one of the first few to get modernized in the 1990s. (and looks 1990s transit too!). Not sure what they will do to Beachmont, except possibly build a ped bridge to the new complex, as Beachmont was remodeled not too long ago.

As far as the BLX to Lynn. I think its gaining momentum. Lynn is really up and coming (downtown has turned into something nice these days). And now that the waterfront is slated to get development, along with much of the old GE property. Its a lot of development. I think we'll see BLX in the next 10-15 years. Its gotta happen.

(And even still, if we electrified the newburyport/rockport branch, we could have EMU's and have BLX like service without an extension)

As far as increased service, the BL runs trains

Third set of tracks for express... $$$$$$$$$ lots of tight squeezes and then of course dealing with the yard at Orient Heights. (cross overs)

Hopefully can get the Red/Blue connector in there in the meantime. Agree on the third track - always welcome tri and quad tracks for a number of reasons, but, even with a Lynn extension the Blue Line is only about 10 miles long - about the length of the Orange Line, and significantly shorter than the Red. Two sets of tracks should get at least 3 minute headways (or less).

The Blue Line is already pretty new, and the rolling stock is just over a decade old at this point. If there is any line today that has capacity, it is the Blue Line. Also, every station, excluding Bowdoin, has been fairly recently renovated and are ADA compliant.


Boston was an industrial city, it won't magical change overnight.

all for the profit of a Texas oil billionaire? Is that what Boston thinks is progress?

Adam, it´s unfortunate that your report of the meeting doesn´t go into further detail. I get you can´t be everywhere at once but just because the BPDA vote was unanimous does NOT mean there is no opposition, and it does NOT mean that proper process has been followed. It only means that the BPDA has been in the developer´s pocket since the beginning. Really! Our fine, upstanding BPDA that has never had even the slightest whiff of corruption about it...

The East Boston community has been shut out time and time again through rushed, poorly planned meetings where the BPDA all but ignores the interpreters they make such a big deal about providing (failing to mention they provide interpretation only thanks to a lawsuit filed against them), and by demeaning the people who have gone there to speak in favor of higher affordability.

There´s much, much more to this and we should be demanding more of our city and the quasi-public crony organizations like BPDA that will run poor people out if they are allowed to do so.

Support your neighbors, not a billionaire and his friends.

with runways about a mile to the south will cause some noise, and no amount of soundproofing in the buildings will protect users of the outdoor spaces from noise pollution.

Are former Suffolk Downs employees getting free condos or not? If a fair society it would happen. Are we there yet?

With the increase in population, are there any plans to increase public safety staffing levels? They added about 40,000 people to the waterfront in South Boston and there was no increase in cops, firefighters, or EMS.

How about the developers put some money aside for the community for things like widespread rodent control. It’s a public health issue.