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Money, projects starting to flow at Suffolk Downs

Investor commits $775M to finance 4,200 units of housing over next several years, and lab projects roll forward.

Construction work is underway on Suffolk Downs' first building, a 280,000-square-foot life-science manufacturing facility developed by The HYM Investment Group.Elkus Manfredi Architects

REVERE — Developers at Suffolk Downs, the 161-acre former horse racing track that straddles East Boston and Revere, have landed major financing deals to move forward with a lab and biomanufacturing facility and several thousand housing units.

Washington, D.C.-based National Real Estate Advisors said Tuesday that it has committed $775 million in equity financing to develop 4,200 housing units over the next eight years at Suffolk Downs. The first of those projects will be a 475-unit apartment building, called “Amaya,” near the Beachmont MBTA station in Revere. (National also has both an office and residential tower at HYM’s Bulfinch Crossing development in downtown Boston.)


Also included in Suffolk Downs’ first phase is a 280,000-square-foot biomanufacturing and lab building near Beachmont at 100 Salt St. Cathexis Holdings LP, the Houston-based investment office of Texas billionaire William Bruce Harrison, is partnering with The HYM Investment Group to finance that $350 million facility.

HYM held a formal groundbreaking Tuesday, almost five years to the day since the group purchased the site — also with Cathexis’ investment — in May 2017 for $155 million. All told, Suffolk Downs is expected to house 16.2 million square feet of space, including 10,000 apartments and condominiums, 5.2 million square feet of life-science and office space, and 450,000 square feet of retail and civic space. When fully built out, it would be among the largest real estate projects in Massachusetts history.

At the Tuesday groundbreaking, representatives from HYM, the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council and the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center touted the importance of bringing life-science labs to Suffolk Downs. The success of the state’s biotech boom has been uneven in communities of color — and putting labs in Revere and East Boston, which both have sizable Hispanic communities, could start to turn that tide, said Kenneth Turner, president and CEO of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center.


“We have an opportunity in front of us to ensure that these jobs that are being created in the tens of thousands in the life sciences are filled by men and women of color and others that have long been (overlooked), and neighborhoods that have been looked past,” Turner said. “We will literally change the complexion of the life sciences workforce.”

Beyond the life-science lab, HYM also plans a limited-service hotel as part of the first phase. Douglas Manz, HYM’s chief investment officer, declined to name a brand, but said it was “well known.”

While roughly two-thirds of the 161-acre site sits in East Boston, the projects celebrated Tuesday were all in Revere, where permitting for the sprawling project was completed earlier. A parade of speakers at the groundbreaking included Revere Mayor Brian Arrigo and several Revere city councilors, though no one from the City of Boston. A spokesperson for Mayor Michelle Wu — who appeared on Boston Public Radio at the same time the event began — said she had a scheduling conflict.

Catherine Carlock can be reached at catherine.carlock@globe.com. Follow her @bycathcarlock.