Revere Mayor Brian Arrigo can’t be blamed for telling a corny joke if he points to the New England Confectionery Company building in Revere and calls it his sweet spot.
The sprawling candy company located on American Legion Highway has a new owner. Framingham-based Atlantic Management Corporation has visions of manufacturing robotics equipment in the Necco building next to where the 170-year-old confectioner turns out Valentine Sweethearts and Necco wafers.
Arrigo has already proven he can think big thoughts about his small city and it is easy for him to take a bird’s-eye view of Revere and muse about the connection between the Necco site and the city’s two once-vibrant race tracks.
Wonderland Greyhound Park is a deteriorating eyesore with its gigantic parking lot used for car storage. Suffolk Downs still has a summer season life hosting racing in combination with food truck jamborees, but the giant track is poised for transformation under new ownership.
It’s hard not to imagine Arrigo looking at Necco, Wonderland and Suffolk — not individually — but combined with their shared potential for development humming like a giant economic engine ready to power Revere into the future.
Bringing robotics to American Legion Highway gives Revere a direct connection to emerging technology industries in Boston, including the huge investment in brain power General Electric is about to bring to Boston’s waterfront.
If Revere becomes a home for robotics manufacturing, it is conceivable robotics firms and related technology companies interested in setting up shop in the Boston area will look beyond Boston and past Route 128 to Revere.
With Wonderland located a short distance from the Necco plant, it is easy to imagine the former track becoming the “Wonderland Industrial Complex” with robotics and similar technology.
Like the Necco site, Wonderland is located on a highway that runs on almost a straight line to Boston, passing Logan International Airport on the way. Wonderland also benefits from its proximity to the Blue Line.
Suffolk Downs enjoys that same enviable access to public transportation and a highway running into Boston. Imagination is the limit for developers looking at ways to redefine Suffolk Downs’ use and anyone arguing Revere lacks the land, transit access and imagination to become a technology hub proximate to Boston hasn’t done his homework.
Arrigo understands the potential posed by the Necco building, Wonderland and Suffolk. That is why he fought against bringing slot machines to Revere and that is why he is so happy to welcome Atlantic and its vision for the future.