Suffolk Downs will dramatically shrink the “sea of asphalt” around the East Boston racetrack and increase plantings and gardens, as a key selling point of its bid for casino development rights, track officials say.
The revamped development plans are the first major update to the Suffolk Downs casino design since the track initially rolled out plans for a $1 billion “urban oasis’’ last June. The new details come as Suffolk Downs, once the unchallenged front-runner for the state’s most lucrative casino license, is facing tough new competition from rival projects.
The new designs, produced by the architectural firm Sasaki Associates of Watertown, includes an overhaul of the main entrance to the property off Route 1A, which passes between a homely field of fuel tanks and the densely developed Orient Heights neighborhood. The new entrance calls for a winding boulevard through newly planted fields and a buffer of new forest, leading to a horseshoe-shaped hotel.
The $10 million to $15 million grounds plan would reduce pavement on the site by 30 percent, in part by cutting the number of surface parking spaces from the current 6,300 to 1,900. Suffolk Downs would add a new parking garage to hold 2,400 to 2,500 cars, and create another 450 parking spaces under the hotel development, said track officials.
“This is a really stunning vision for how the property can look in the future, compared to what it looks like now,” Chip Tuttle, chief operating officer of Suffolk Downs, said Tuesday. “It’s a part of our commitment to having the most sustainably designed gaming property in the United States.”
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