The landmark sites, beachfront and city governance of Revere may look entirely different in the coming years. Revere is in the process of drafting a master plan for the city that will establish and prioritize the guidelines and initiatives for major redevelopment sites around the city. Further underscoring this intense period of change in the city is the upcoming mayoral election between incumbent Brian Arrigo and his opponent from 2015, Dan Rizzo, who is running again in 2019. Although 34 candidates submitted nomination papers for the November election, the spotlight will be on Arrigo and Rizzo. The winner will ultimately determine the outcome of the development initiatives laid out by Arrigo since he took office in 2016.
Throughout his time in office, Mayor Arrigo has made it quite clear that he is an advocate for real estate development in Revere. It is a common occurrence for the mayor to go out of his way to refer to future projects when discussing topics that are not necessarily related to development. This was exemplified in a recent statement relative to traffic in Revere. “We are optimistic that future development at Wonderland and at the nearby Necco site on American Legion Highway will advance the argument for this proposal,” said Arrigo on August 30th. The proposal Arrigo is commenting on is one of many initiatives that would help erase the congestion in Revere.
On the other hand, candidate Rizzo, who is currently a city councilor at large, has not been shy about showing his disdain for Arrigo’s prioritization of development. Rizzo has voiced his disapproval of both current and future developments in Revere via Twitter and public statements.
Should he be re-elected, Mayor Arrigo’s vision for Revere’s future will be largely oriented around the redevelopment of scalable functionally obsolete sites. Capitalizing on the in-place public transportation infrastructure will play a vital role in building out the prospective development projects within the city.
The Wonderland and Revere Beach MBTA stops serve as the go-to transit lines for many North Shore commuters. The city’s growth will benefit from these optimally located MBTA stops. Large projects such as the residential developments at Waterfront Square as well as the currently unused Wonderland Greyhound Track would bring significant new tax dollars and construction jobs to Revere. The theme outlined and implied by Arrigo’s administration is “revitalization” as a tool for economic development.
Discussed further below, projects such as The Creative District will be one of the developments to embody this idea of revitalization. Falling into what the City of Revere categorizes as a “District,” the Creative District is just one of many projects that will play a role in the 21st century build out of Revere.
Every project and initiative is designated to one of three categories: Master Planned Sites, Districts and Key Vacant Sites.
The Master Planned Sites
These refer to projects that are expected to take many years to develop and are of substantial magnitude. Included in these are Suffolk Downs and Waterfront Square. A former horse racing venue, Suffolk Downs sits on 161 acres (51 in Revere) and is expected to take 15-20 years to deliver. Waterfront Square includes eight high-end buildings totaling 902 residential units located directly on Revere Beach and next to the Wonderland MBTA station.
Shirley Ave, Broadway Business District and the Creative District account for the specific areas designated as Districts for future development. Assigned by the state as a Transformative Development Initiative, the Shirley Ave District is unique in that it has leveraged technical assistance and public/private financing. This entire district is within walking distance of the Revere Beach MBTA stop. Also located steps from the same stop, The Creative District is planned to revitalize Revere Beach by bringing in walk-up commercial businesses and recreation.
Key Vacant Sites
Key Vacant Sites are large parcels of land that are not only in valuable locations but also have substantial acreage. Among these sites are the former Necco headquarters, Wonderland Track and Caddy Farms, ultimately making up 118 acres of underutilized land. With these proposed developments considered, it is clear that the scale of potential development in Revere is monumental.
The notion of a renaissance in Revere is exciting. It’s a waterfront city of over 51,000 people that is a mere 6 miles north of Boston and directly connected by mass public transit. However, none of those core elements are new and change is inevitably difficult to enact. This latest evolution is contingent on the results of this November’s mayoral election. The plans discussed are substantial, but a political shift has the potential to derail them or endorse them. Stay tuned for more news on Revere in the years to come. Converge will be tracking it closely.