ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Wonderland Greyhound Park could be torn down and replaced with a new development.
By THOMAS GRILLO
REVERE — Nearly seven years after the last bet was placed at Wonderland Greyhound Park, the sprawling complex could be transformed into the city’s next neighborhood.
Sources tell The Item that a well-known regional developer is in discussions with the property owner to buy the 34-acre parcel on the VFW Parkway.
Wonderland is owned by CBW Lending LLC, some of the same investors with an interest in Suffolk Downs. They include Coastal Development, a New York firm led by developer Richard Fields, concessionaire Joseph O’Donnell, who plans to break ground this year on waterfront apartment building near the General Edwards Bridge, and Vornado Realty Trust. Vornado is the New York-based real estate investment trust that angered the late Mayor Thomas M. Menino by stopping construction at the former Filene’s site in Boston and leaving a giant hole in the ground in Downtown Crossing for years.
While the development team is a secret for now, Upton + Partners and TA Associates Realty has earned Revere’s respect for high quality work based on their recently completed construction on Ocean 650 Apartments. The $58 million luxury waterfront project on Ocean Avenue offers sweeping ocean and Boston skyline views, garage parking and a pool. Studio apartments start at $1,770 and two-bedrooms are available from $2,690, according to the apartments’ website.
Boston-based TA Associates and Upton of Dedham declined to comment. Executives at CBW Lending could not be reached for comment.
If a deal does close on the long vacant property, Revere Mayor Brian Arrigo will get the credit. He campaigned on a pledge to convince the owners to demolish the eyesore. During his state of the city speech last month, the mayor said the city has waited too long to learn about Wonderland’s future. He said the owners have signed an agreement that within three months they will either sell the land, demolish the property or pay the city $100,000 in back fines.
“Potential developers understand my vision for the site,” said Arrigo, who declined to identify the developer. “We want good anchors, amenities, restaurants and shops, the type of things that attract people. We want to create a place. That’s a model that has worked in Somerville, Medford, Malden and Everett. There’s no reason it can’t happen here.”
The potential redevelopment of Wonderland comes as word that Suffolk Downs in East Boston is about to be sold. The Boston Globe reported last week that a group led by former Boston Redevelopment Authority director Thomas O’Brien has the 161-acre site under contract.
O’Brien did not return a call seeking comment.
Wonderland Greyhound Park’s storied history began in the summer of 1935 when 5,000 patrons watched Pansy Walker win the first greyhound race at the track as nearly $60,000 was on the line by gamblers. Four years later, Rural Rube dominated the racing season, setting a record with 19 wins.
While the track provided fun for gamblers and jobs for 75 years, a combination of the outlawing of greyhound racing in Massachusetts and the opening of Foxwoods Resort Casino spelled the death knell for the facility.
Thomas Grillo can be reached at [email protected]