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Former Secretary of Transportation and Local Urban Development Experts Announce New Vision for future planning of the Suffolk Downs Site

Community group offers five guiding principles for development 


BOSTON, Mass., September 17, 2014 -- Led by former Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation Jim Aloisi, a largely East Boston-based group of urban planners, architects, public infrastructure experts, and representatives of various community groups propose an alternative vision to the proposed casino at Suffolk Downs.

This group, formed after the November 5, 2013 election in which East Boston voters rejected the creation of a casino at Suffolk Downs, has been working toward developing a new vision for the development of the 161 acre site.   The group is releasing this document in light of Sterling Suffolk LLC's recent decision to close track operations next year.  

The group’s two-page guidance titled “Overarching Principles For Development in East Boston” outlines five principles by which all future significant development proposals in East Boston – and Suffolk Downs in particular – should be measured. The principles, including job creation, community inclusion and a transparent process, environmental impact, transit-oriented development, and economic feasibility, present a framework to ensure that this critical and unique site is developed in a way that enhances quality of life, job creation and return on investment for all residents of Boston and surrounding communities.


“Although Suffolk Downs is privately owned, it is supported by a highway and transit system owned and operated by the state and paid for by the taxpayers of Massachusetts,” said Aloisi, a native of East Boston and whose parents still live in the neighborhood. “It is only fair and just that any major development on its grounds be thoroughly vetted by local citizenry and surrounding communities. We hope these principles, which express a positive and forward looking vision for the future of this site and community will be embraced by a broad spectrum of state and local decision makers.”


As many real estate and other investment experts contend, the Suffolk Downs site offers a wealth of development possibilities beyond a casino. For example, Banker and Tradesman recently noted that "At a time when home and condo prices are soaring out of reach for middle class families in Boston, Suffolk's 110 or so Boston acres are a huge potential asset, ground zero for the Hub's next big mixed-use neighborhood of shops and homes." (1)


Desirable factors such as quick access to downtown Boston, Logan Airport and the emerging Innovation District in South Boston via the Blue Line and soon the Silver Line, as well as a shared economic center for the communities of East Boston, Revere and Winthrop make Suffolk Downs an exceptional candidate for a mix of housing and commercial development opportunities, according to the group. Also, the adjacent Belle Isle Marsh provides abundant green space and offers potential connections to the East Boston Greenway.


A full version of the  “Overarching Principles For Development in East Boston” can be found at  https://sites.google.com/site/eastboston2020/.  For more information, please contact east.boston.visioning@gmail.com


(1) Banker and Tradesman, "Forget Gambling: Suffolk Downs Has Mixed-Use Development Potential" Sunday, November 17, 2013 http://www.bankerandtradesman.com/news157396.html  
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