Since 1935, the cacophony of horses thundering along the dirt track at Suffolk Downs was a normal occurrence. Today, different noises – music, children playing, and the chatter of shoppers – make up the sounds of what many would call an opportunity or a reset for the former racing track.
Let’s take a look back at the former horse racing destination and see what’s in store for this area that links two neighborhoods, East Boston and Revere, Massachusetts.
In Days Gone By – Suffolk Downs
For nearly 85 years, the site of Suffolk Downs was synonymous with racing, including famous horses with names such as Seabiscuit, Whirlaway, Funny Cide, and Cigar. The historic track, located on McClellan Highway between East Boston and Revere, was shuttered for live racing in 2019 when it was bought by the HYM Investment Group LLC (HYM) and investors. Their mission is to redevelop and reimagine the 161 acres into a mixed-use neighborhood that brings together East Boston and Revere.
In the early years of Suffolk Downs, owners experienced a heyday of racing during the races of Seabiscuit, deemed a national hero, and Whirlaway, the all-time leading money-earner by winning the MassCap.
Post WWII, Suffolk Downs continued to see enthusiasm for the sport and saw many famous horses pass through the track. However, by the 1980s the track went through a series of closures due to financial concessions being requested of the state. In May 2017, after ownership changes and years of simulcasting races, Suffolk Downs was sold to HYM Investment Group for $155 million to be used as developments.
The Future of Suffolk Downs
The redevelopment of Suffolk Downs is one of the largest real estate projects in Boston’s long history. The entire site of the former race track has been reimagined with the hope of bringing new life, activity, and opportunity to the underutilized site.
The plans for the site include 10,000 new units of housing including housing for seniors, workforce, family, and young professionals, and 900 affordable housing units. In addition to housing options, there will be hotels for travelers and visitors, two retail squares to encourage consumers living in and around the neighborhoods, and office space designed for life sciences and innovative companies.
Along with buildings for multiple uses, there are plans for 40 acres of open space for individual and family use for walking, biking, hiking, pets, and just enjoying the outdoors.
Music is a tradition at Suffolk Downs as it once hosted Radiohead, the Jackson Five and the Beatles! So it makes total sense that one of the areas of the mixed-use redevelopment would be The Stage, an outdoor music venue that is already up and running on the site with live concerts. For a full schedule visit the Stage calendar.
Even during construction, families are encouraged to come and walk the track or visit The Dog Park at Suffolk Downs, located directly adjacent to The Track. This opened last year and is available for residents, visitors and their four-legged friends to enjoy. As of the end of the summer one of the residential buildings was nearing completion and street lighting along future streets is to begin.
Come check out the exciting changes at Suffolk Downs that will positively impact not just the two neighborhoods but the entire region.