As talk heats up around town about a possible deal to sell and redevelop the 161 acres at Suffolk Downs, it is worth sharing the view of Pioneer’s founder Lovett C. Peters, expressed way back in 2005, when slots were being proposed for the racetrack. Over a decade ago, Pete wrote in an op-ed for The Boston Globe that:
“THE OWNERS of racetracks have a failing business. They report losing money and want the Legislature to enhance their profits by authorizing slot machines. Proponents argue that slots are a win-win for Massachusetts, because they will increase state revenues and boost our already thriving tourism industry. The evidence tells quite a different story.”
Instead, underscoring the difficulty that high housing prices create for people and for businesses, Pete noted that:
“Suffolk Downs should do what every business that can no longer compete in the marketplace does. Find a better use for the property. And what an opportunity there is for housing-poor Eastern Massachusetts and for leaders like Mayor Menino, who strongly supports housing municipal employees in Boston.
Tucked between the Blue Line and commuter rail, one could easily imagine the creation of a community at Suffolk Downs of over 5,000 residences, millions of square feet of commercial space, and dozens of acres of open space. This could mean market-rent apartments for the young professionals who are fleeing the region because of high housing costs.
A well-considered integration of open space could resurrect Revere Beach as a regional tourist destination. And the state could ensure neutral fiscal impacts on Boston and Revere by allowing for state-funded charter public schools to provide capacity equivalent to the number of students added by the new neighborhood. Such a project would increase the significance of East Boston and Revere to the Greater Boston area, turning them into a gateway to the North Shore business community and a role model for smart growth.”
Our housing challenges continue, and this could be a great opportunity to build onto our community. Expect Pioneer to keep weighing in on this project as it takes shape.