Deal to buy Suffolk Downs could spur development there


The Suffolk Downs Festival of Racing included three days of racing in fall 2015.

A prominent local developer has agreed to buy Suffolk Downs in East Boston, a deal that could turn the down-on-its-luck horse track into a new neighborhood that transforms the northern corner of the city.

A group led by former Boston Redevelopment Authority chief Tom O’Brien has the 161-acre site under contract, according to people familiar with the situation, and a sale could close by summer. The agreement is preliminary and could fall through, the people said, but it’s the clearest sign yet of a new start for Suffolk after plans to build a casino there died in 2014.

 Neither O’Brien nor Suffolk partners would comment on the agreement, and no sale price was available. But observers say the site, which sits between two Blue Line stops and crosses partially into Revere, has enormous development potential for housing, retail, and open space.
“You look at it and say, ‘Wow, that is an unbelievable opportunity,’ ” said David Begelfer, chief executive of NAIOP Massachusetts, a real estate trade group. “You have enough critical mass to make something really great

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