By Sara Brown
As the year almost comes to an end, it is customary to look back on what made the year extraordinary. From major developments to the passing of iconic leaders, it was a busy year for the community of Revere.
In May, The HYM Investment Group, LLC acquired the Suffolk Downs site and will be developing it with hopes to turn the land into a major mixed-use development. The site is 161 acres with 42 acres of the property in Revere and the rest in East Boston.
They are also hoping to have Amazon settle in Suffolk Downs for the second headquarters in the country. Amazon has promised a $5 billion investment to the right city along with 50,000 jobs over the next two decades. Amazon wants more than 100 acres to build its second corporate headquarters they are calling HQ2.
Revere applied to Amazon’s Request for Proposal (RFP) in October, and is expecting to hear back sometime in 2018. In the RFP, it says Amazon is looking for a metropolitan area with a strong and stable business environment.
“I think Amazon would be hard pressed to find a better location than Suffolk Downs,” said Mayor Brian Arrigo in an interview with The Revere Advocate in September.
“It would be like winning the Super Bowl in terms of building an economy,” he said. “It wouldn’t just be a game changer for Revere but for the whole Commonwealth.”
Tom O’Brien of The HYM Investment Group believes Revere has a good chance of becoming one of the top picks for the Amazon bid. “I will be flabbergasted if we are not moved to the next stage,” O’Brien said at the Nov. 13 City Council meeting.
The HYM Investment Group said they are working on developing the space where Amazon would go if it is accepted. If it is not accepted, HYM will use that space for other commercial needs. HYM wants to build two 260,000 square foot office buildings and a 520-space parking garage. O’Brien said he would like the construction on the buildings to start by the springtime and have it open by the end of 2019.
“We are putting ourselves in the position – when Amazon calls us – ready to go,” O’Brien said.
Whether or not Amazon comes to Revere, Suffolk Downs will still be developed. O’Brien said HYM is planning on having 500,000 square feet of retail space. He also plans on having green space and some residential development as well.
Passing of Bob Haas
Flowers were placed at the late Councillor Robert Haas’ desk in the council chambers shortly after his death in July.
In July, the city mourned the unexpected passing of former Mayor and City Council President Robert Haas. Haas passed away July 2 in Rhode Island at a vacation spot. Haas was a city councillor from 1980 to 1992 until he was elected mayor. He served the city as mayor for four terms until losing to Thomas Ambrosino in 1999. He returned to politics in 2003 as councillor-at-large and was the council president until he passed away.
Haas graduated from Revere High School in 1963. Afterwards, he entered the military. He would eventually receive a finance degree from Northeastern University.
“Council President Bob Haas was a wonderful guy who understood the meaning of the word ‘team,’” Councillor-at-Large Steve Morabito said to The Revere Advocate in July. “He was always more focused on the good of the city and its people rather than on his own benefit. He made many great contributions to the city as a public servant and helped Revere move forward in numerous ways. His work and leadership in this city will not be forgotten. Most importantly, Councillor Haas was a friend and mentor to me. I will treasure the wisdom he shared with me forever.”
Mayor Brian Arrigo considered Haas a mentor. “Bob devoted his life to the residents of Revere. He served as councillor and as mayor for over 30 years. He also served his country in the Naval Reserve. He never stopped fighting for our city,” said Arrigo in July to The Revere Advocate. “Bob has been a mentor and a friend throughout my career. His counsel and support has meant the world to me. He was always willing to share his experiences and his wisdom, both in politics and in life. Bob always reminded me that no matter what was going on, the most important thing in life is our family.”
When the tragic news broke, flags were lowered at half-mast at City Hall. At the last City Council meeting of the year, the council honored Haas by hanging his portrait in The Council Chambers.
“I knew we had to do this for him right away,” Ward 3 Councillor Arthur Guinasso said. “He would have loved this.”
Haas is survived by his wife, Juanita (Brandariz), his daughters Jennifer and her fiancé, John Coyne, Rachel and son, Bobby and his wife, Jennifer, and grandchildren Brayden, Luca and Noah.
School Committee member-elect
The Revere City Council will be getting a new face next year thanks to the election. Former Mayor Dan Rizzo will be joining the council again after topping the ballot with 12 candidates in the councillor-at-large election. Rizzo received 3,878 votes while Councillor-at-Large Jessica Giannino finished second with 3,767 votes.
Councillor-at-Large Steven Morabito was reelected to the Council with 3,103 votes. Councillors-at-Large George
Rotondo (2,797) and Anthony Zambuto (2,737) were also reelected to the council.
Gerry Visconti will be joining the School Committee as the only new face on that committee.
Question 1 was passed overwhelmingly with 4,543 residents voting in favor of it against 1,398 votes against. Question 1 will allow for 10 percent tax exemption for qualifying senior citizens who own and live in their homes in Revere. The program will be implemented July 1.