(Bloomberg) -- Suffolk Downs, the thoroughbred racetrack in East Boston that operated for more than 80 years before shutting in 2019, is slated to be converted into a massive mix of housing, commercial and lab space that’s being billed as the biggest single private development in city history. 

The project, stretching across both East Boston and the seaside city of Revere, would ultimately include 10,000 condos and apartments as well as more than 5 million square feet of life science labs and office space and 450,000 square feet of civic and retail spaces. Developers HYM Investment Group, Cathexis and National Real Estate Advisors broke ground Tuesday on an initial 280,000-square-foot life science building and 475-unit apartment building, with occupancy expected for 2024. 

“Nowhere else in the northeastern United States can one find a site like this,” a 161-acre (65.2 hectare) vacant parcel connected to two subway stations as well as the ocean, said Thomas O’Brien, founding partner and managing director of HYM. The project also includes a landmark agreement with building trades unions, he and other leaders said.   

The Boston area is grappling with a housing shortage and real estate prices rising so sharply that in some surveys, more voters rank housing affordability as their top concern than any other issue. 

Among other major projects under way in the city are the continued development of the new Seaport district and Harvard University’s project to convert roughly 140 acres of the Boston neighborhood of Allston into new university space heavy on research and technology. That project has raised some opposition from current Allston residents; the Suffolk Downs site plan is raising concerns among neighbors about lab safety, the Revere Journal reports. 

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