By John Lynds
Last week HYM Investment Group, LLC filed an Expanded Project Notification Form (EPNF) with the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) and a MEPA (Masschusetts Environmental Policy Act) summary with the state to begin the permitting process for the 161-acre Suffolk Downs site.
While the Boston Globe reported that HYM was looking to ‘skip’ some environmental reviews, HYM Principal Partner Thomas O’Brien this week clarified some statements made in the Globe article.
“We are seeking an expedited review from MEPA for a tiny slice of the development, known as Phase 1, at Suffolk Downs,” he said. “We are not asking to “skip” any categories of environmental reviews. We are only asking that the MEPA staff review our thoroughly prepared filing more quickly than the typical schedule. We have submitted a detailed environmental impact analysis to the state on the Phase 1 land and it will still be reviewed by the state as part of the master plan review. This is not an unusual request.”
O’Brien said that this type of request has been given on first phases of other area projects including General Electric, Seaport Square, Winsor School Project and Waterfront Square in Revere.
“We have commenced the review process for the entire Suffolk Downs site under MEPA as well as the process for review and approval of the site-wide master plan by the City of Boston and the City of Revere,” said O’Brien.
In addition to submitting plans for the entire development site, O’Brien said HYM has filed a comprehensive impact studies under MEPA and the City of Boston for Phase 1 of the development. O’Brien said this phase consisting of two 260,000-square-foot office buildings located in the southeast corner of the site next to the Suffolk Downs MBTA Blue Line Station. The submissions made for these buildings include full studies of traffic, drainage, greenhouse gas emissions, energy utilization, climate change resiliency, and historic, wind, shadow and daylight impacts.
“These two buildings represent a tiny portion of the entire development–less than four percent of the total floor area which can be constructed at Suffolk Downs under current zoning regulations,” said O’Brien. “These two initial buildings would be constructed to LEED Gold environmental standards and the only vehicle access will be through the existing vehicle entrances to Suffolk Downs.”
O’Brien said seeking an ‘expedited’ MEPA review for this phase was done in an effort to meet Amazon’s accelerated deadline.
“We are only asking MEPA and the BPDA to review our thoroughly prepared filing on this Phase 1 component and determine if these buildings can move forward immediately if requested by Amazon,” said O’Brien. ‘We take environmental review very seriously and have spent time with our consultant team to create a thorough filing. We have taken care to discuss fast-tracking Phase 1 at community meetings in our ongoing conversation with various neighborhood groups and residents. Because we know the process can be confusing, we want to be as transparent as possible and provide the public with the relevant filing information. As always, we are happy to further clarify details of the filing and we will continue to discuss the project timeline at upcoming public meetings and address any concerns or questions.”
HYM hopes to create a large mixed use development at the Suffolk Downs site that would include different types of housing, retail and public open space. Recently the site was identified by the City of Boston as an appropriate location suitable for the potential location of Amazon’s second North American corporate headquarters. The City of Boston, working in conjunction with HYM, submitted a bid to Amazon. However, O’Brien has said time and again at Eastie community meetings that HYM is going forward with a mixed use development with or without Amazon being part of the overall development.
You can read HYM’s EPNF at www.bostonplans.org/getattachment/bd83ad43-a33a-42e0-ba0d-c1f257fc93b5 and the company’s MEPA filing at http://188.8.131.52/EEA/emepa/mepadocs/2017/120617em/nps/enf/15783%20Suffolk%20Downs%20Redevelopment.pdf.