Parking garage seen as key to major Revere project

With 14 gleaming shovels lined up in the ceremonial dirt pile before them, a battery of officials gathered at the MBTA's Wonderland Station to break ground on a $53.5 million, 1,465-space parking garage. 
While the garage will be the third biggest in the T's rapid transit system, the planned parking structure was only part of what drew a crowd to the last stop on the Blue Line. The seven-story garage will free up 10 acres of current surface parking and enable construction of Waterfront Square, an ocean-facing private development slated to bring a 100-room hotel and 902 residential units as well as office space and shops to Revere Beach.

"This project is so much more to us than just a garage," said Revere Mayor Thomas G. Ambrosino, master of ceremonies at a groundbreaking that drew more federal, state, and local officials than there were shovels.

The Wonderland garage -- which was first discussed decades before Boston-based Eurovest Development proposed Waterfront Square -- will be built over the coming year by Suffolk Construction.

Nearly half of the $53 million-plus in design, administrative, and construction costs for the garage will be covered with money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, also known as the federal stimulus program. The Federal Transit Administration contributed another $3 million, and the state government awarded $16 million in combined economic development and infrastructure grants. The MBTA is putting up the remaining $11.3 million through revenue bonds, said Joe Pesaturo, a T spokesman.

Officials representing those agencies and more gathered on the steps of the station as mid-morning commuters filtered in and Blue Line trains came and went in the background. They looked out at Wonderland Ballroom ("Since 1925"), and, across Route 1A, at the shuttered Wonderland greyhound track. Neither one was the true Wonderland, US Representative Edward J. Markey said, recalling the amusement park that gave the area its name a century ago -- a draw that would be equaled by the redevelopment, said Markey, who helped secure federal funds.

"Wonderland was not a dog track. Wonderland was not an MBTA station. Wonderland in 1907 was the amusement park. That's why it's called Won-der-land," said Markey, drawing out the syllables. "All of the families from all of the surrounding area would come down here to where we're standing, to Wonderland, and that's what we are about to recreate again."
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