Developers Bet Big On Racetrack Redevelopment Projects
Developers and investors are placing their bets on mixed-use developments at former racetracks, many of which have closed down in recent decades following a decline in horse racing.
Check out some of the newest developments underway that are turning abandoned tracks into thriving communities:
The former Bay Meadows racetrack in San Mateo, California, closed in 2008 and Wilson Meany is transforming the 83-acre site owned by Stockbridge Capital Group into a mixed-use development with 780K SF of office space, 1,100 housing units, 40K SF of retail space and 18 acres of public parks. The housing will include 15% affordable units.
The office has attracted big companies such as Survey Monkey, Ten-X, Zoura and OpenText. Retailers include Roam Artisan Burgers, LIFT Fitness, Blue Bottle Coffee, Tin Pot Creamer and Fieldwork Brewing Co.
Bay Meadows, which opened in 1934, had the first all-enclosed electric starting gate and introduced the photo-finish camera. Seabiscuit once raced on the track and won the Bay Meadows Handicap in 1937 and 1938.
Suffolk Downs in Boston closed in 2017 when HYM Investment Group purchased the 161-acre site, which is now in the running for Amazon HQ2. The developer plans to turn the site into a 16.5M SF, mixed-use development with residential, retail, office, hotel and lab space built over 20 years. The first phase of the project has been approved for 520K SF of office in two buildings.
The racetrack opened in 1935 and was where Seabiscuit caught the eye of trainer Tom Smith, who later advised Charles Howard to purchase the horse. Seabiscuit returned to the track in 1937 to win the Massachusetts Handicap and set a track record.
The redevelopment of Hollywood Park in Inglewood, California, began soon after it closed in 2013. Wilson Meany broke ground on the redevelopment of the 238-acre site in 2014. The mixed-use project will create 3,000 housing units, 620K SF of retail, a 300-room hotel, a 120K SF casino, 25K SF of office and 10K SF of community services. The Hollywood Park development includes the 70,000-seat stadium for the LA Rams and Chargers, which is expected to open in 2019.
Hollywood Park once held races with several famous horses, such as Seabiscuit, Citation, Seattle Slew and Affirmed. It opened in 1934 and was popular among classic film stars Elizabeth Taylor, Jimmy Stewart and Bing Crosby.
Garden State Park
The thoroughbred raceway in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, closed in 2001 and has since become a mixed-use development with housing and retail. A 154K SF Costco has been approved on the site. Developer M&M Realty plans to add 100K SF of additional retail. Current big-box retailers at the site include Dick’s Sporting Goods, Bed Bath & Beyond, Home Depot, Wegmans and Best Buy.
TSV-TGA Golden State Park LLC plans to build a 608-unit, 20-building apartment complex for residents aged 55 years and older on the last remaining parcel on the site. The site already includes apartments, condos and townhomes from M&M Realty.
The racetrack is the site of Cherry Hill’s largest fire, which struck in 1977 and destroyed the track. It was rebuilt and reopened in 1985, closing for good in 2001. In its heyday, the track attracted 12,000 spectators daily and Secretariat and Citation once raced there.
Northville Downs and Hazel Park
Michigan’s last remaining operational racetrack, Northville Downs, was sold to Hunter Pasteur Homes in mid-April and could be turned into a development with 500 to 600 apartments, townhomes and single-family homes and possibly commercial space. Live racing is expected to continue through 2020. Michigan’s other remaining racetrack, Hazel Park, is in the process of being redeveloped into two 600K SF commercial buildings from Ashley Capital.
Ohio’s first thoroughbred racetrack, Beulah Park, opened in 1923 and closed in 2014. Developer Falco, Smith & Kelley Ltd. plans to break ground in Grove City, Ohio, during spring to build a mixed-use project with 380 apartments, 120 condos, 60 townhomes, 300 single-family homes, a 102-unit independent living facility and a 75-unit assisted living facility. The $300M project will include retail and office.
Los Alamitos Race Course
Los Alamitos Race Course in Cypress, California, remains in operation, but the owner is pushing to create a master-planned community on 150-plus acres. The plan calls for 24 acres of senior housing, 74 acres of single-family homes, 20 acres of mixed-use commercial, a 17-acre town center and 20 acres of parks. Voters will decide the future of this site in June.
The racetrack, which opened in 1951, was once home to California Chrome, which nearly pulled off the Triple Crown in 2014 before retiring in 2017. Even with the horse’s success, the racetrack has been struggling and owner Ed Allred has said the raceway has about 10 years left of operation.
CORRECTION, MAY 10, 10:58 A.M. PT: A previous version of this story had incorrect information about California Chrome. The racehorse nearly pulled off the Triple Crown in 2014, but only won two of the three races that year. The story has been updated.