Revere Mayor Dan Rizzo will hold an economic summit Nov. 21 to discuss new growth and business opportunities, but there won’t be much talk about turning the city into a seaside gambling resort.
After Mohegan Sun lost its bid for a license to operate a $1 billion resort casino at the storied Suffolk Downs race track, Revere now is focused on smaller, but still promising, developments.
“Revere’s long-term plan and path forward toward future growth and prosperity may not be a simple one,” Rizzo said in announcing the summit, which will be held at Revere Showcase Cinema. “But it is one that, in the end, makes our city better and stronger for residents, businesses, and visitors.”
Already, there are signs of progress.
On Revere Beach, construction is underway on The Vanguard, a 194-unit luxury apartment complex that is the first phase of Waterfront Square, a $500 million residential/retail/hotel development planned by Eurovest Development of Boston.
Market Basket, the Tewksbury-based supermarket chain, plans to open a big store at Northgate Shopping Center on Route 60 by the end of the year. Construction was completed over a year ago, but the store remained unstocked while a management impasse played out at the chain. The crisis ended in August, when Arthur T. DeMoulas, the chain’s longtime chief executive, reached a deal to buy the company from rival relatives.
Harley-Davidson, which opened a flagship dealership on Revere Beach Parkway in Everett 16 years ago, plans to relocate operations to a former supermarket building on Squire Road, near the Malden line. The facility is due to open in December or January, according to Rizzo.
The summit, the second to be held in two years, aims to “highlight and outline our long-term economic plan,” Rizzo said.
Still, some small-business owners feel stung by the stunning loss of the casino license to a rival project in Everett, and the looming closing of Suffolk Downs. Mohegan Sun had promised to spend at least $10 million annually to purchase goods and services from Revere businesses.
“It’s quite a disappointment,” said Bob Upton, president of the Revere Chamber of Commerce. “Many of us were very, very enthusiastic about what the casino would bring.’’
Suffolk Downs on Thursday asked the state gambling commission to reconsider its decision to award the casino license to Wynn Resorts to build a resort casino in Everett. Track officials cited the recent indictments against three sellers of the land where Wynn plans to build a waterfront resort.
Without the casino license, Suffolk Downs has said it must close. The final nine races at the oval track were held Oct. 4, ending 79 years of racing that featured such thoroughbred stars as Seabiscuit and Cigar.
In a Sept. 17 letter to Rizzo, Suffolk Downs officials said the track is expected to close Nov. 20, and 176 full- and part-time employees will be laid off. Since then, a group of horse owners and trainers has filed an application with the state gambling panel to continue racing at the track.
But Rizzo and others are proceeding as if the track is closing. About 100 Revere residents will be affected if that occurs, said Miles Lang-Kennedy, Rizzo’s chief of staff.
“The mayor is very concerned about them losing their jobs,” Lang-Kennedy said.
workers attended two meetings with job counselors from the state Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development to help them make new career plans, said Ann Dufresne, a state spokeswoman.
The track’s expected closing, along with the lost business opportunity from the casino, is deeply felt by Revere small-business owners.
“New Year’s Eve there would have been great for the flower business,” said Kerri Abrams, owner of Kinship Floral, which supplies flowers to Suffolk Downs. “We hoped they would purchase flowers from us, not only for the guests, but for the function facilities.’’
Suffolk Downs had been a steady customer since she opened her small shop three years ago on Revere Street. She made centerpieces for the track’s parties held to celebrate opening day, the Kentucky Derby, the Belmont Stakes, Valentine’s Day, and Christmas.
Abrams also hand-sewed 1,700 white carnations onto a felt blanket draped over a horse that accompanied the track’s float at Columbus Day parades in Revere and East Boston.
“They were a fun client,” Abrams said, as she pointed to photos posted on her Facebook page.
Gina Walker, chief operating officer at North Shore Shuttle-Be Driven, was gearing up for new business from the casino.
“I had plans to provide an employee shuttle, a shuttle to bring guests there,” said Walker, who runs the business with her father. “This would have been a great opportunity for many businesses. I guess it just wasn’t meant to be for Revere.”
In the last year, Suffolk Downs hired Walker’s company to shuttle residents to the polls to vote in a casino referendum and to attend community rallies and public hearings on the project.
“Suffolk Downs has been a great partner,” Walker said. “We had hoped to continue our relationship with them.”
On Revere Beach, one restaurant owner had hoped the casino would bring a steady flow of new customers.
“The added tourism would have had a ripple effect along the beach,” said Gary Ferragamo, a part-owner of Antonia’s At The Beach Restaurant and Bar. “I was expecting that our business would increase 20 to 40 percent.”
Antonia’s, one of the largest restaurants on the beach, now is trying new deals and ideas to lure customers. A new promotion, called Municipal Mondays, gives city workers a 20 percent discount on their bill on Mondays.
“We’re trying to be creative,” Ferragamo said.