REVERE — Four months after discovering hazardous materials at the shuttered Wonderland Greyhound Park, a demolition crew is expected to return to tear down the landmark property within weeks.
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued a cease and desist order to the owners in October. The agency is reviewing a contractor’s plan to remove asbestos from the site, according to a DEP spokesman. An exact date when demolition will resume is not known.
CBW Lending LLC, former owners of Suffolk Downs, bought the 83-year-old track in 2012 for $9.8 million and began razing buildings on the property last summer. The entity includes Coastal Belmont LLC, a New York firm led by developer Richard Fields, New York-based Vornado Realty Trust, the publicly-traded real estate firm 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, and Belmont Capital led by concessionaire Joseph O’Donnell, who has plans for a waterfront apartment building near the General Edwards Bridge in Lynn.
Fields and Vernado could not be reached for comment.
Charles Morneau, O’Donnell’s associate, said they are aware of the problems at the site and are doing everything to jumpstart demolition.
“Our New York partners (Vornado) are taking the lead on this and they have construction people on site handling it,” he said.
Mayor Brian Arrigo said he is frustrated by the delays.
“There aren’t many tools in our tool kit to make them demolish the building sooner,” he said. “But the sooner the better so we can get on with the possibility of its redevelopment.”
The three owners are looking for a buyer, Arrigo said.
Wonderland’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.
From the mid 1930s through the 1980s, Wonderland was packed with gamblers who bet on greyhound races. But interest in dog racing dwindled, and in 2010 Massachusetts voters approved a ballot question to ban greyhound racing.
The facility shut down for good a short time later, though owners continued to use the property as overflow parking for the nearby Wonderland Blue Line MBTA station.