Boat Builder Seeking to Locate on Waterfront

January 22, 2014
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A boat manufacturing operation that has been part of the fabric of the East Boston community for nearly two decades is planning a move to Charlestown. The company would still have to go through a community process but the owner is confident Charlestown will be Boston Boat Work’s new home.

The Boston Boat Works, which has called the Boston Harbor Shipyard and Marina in Eastie its home for 17 years, will be moving to the Charlestown Maritime Center. Since its creation the company has built over 170 private boats and sailing vessels for customers.

Owner Scott Smith said Boston Boat Works has simply outgrown its space in Eastie.

“We were the first private vessel builder in 90 years on the Boston Harbor after the close of the last non commercial yard in Boston in the early 1900s,” said Smith. “We have grown in a market that has declined 80 percent since 2007 and because our boats are some of the most fuel efficient and durable in their class there has been high demand and our business has grown.”

The new Boat Works will be on a parcel of land partially owned by Massport and partially privately owned near the Tobin Bridge.

Smith and his partner have been very supportive of the Eastie community over the years and Smith help start the widely successful Piers Park Sailing Center on Piers Park in Eastie.

“At the time our goal was to create a not for profit sailing program by and for the local community,” said Smith. “Our plan was to get it up and running with boats and infrastructure to support the program and then hand it off to the community, which is what we did.”

Smith said its bittersweet to leave Eastie because it’s where the company began and found its foothold in the ship building market.

“To build boats you need access to water and infrastructure at a cost that is affordable and that is what we found in East Boston,” said Smith. “We looked at what our competitors use and pay for space and we found 17 years ago a very affordable facility here but we have simply outgrown it.”

Smith said he is excited by said it will be challenging but that the new facility here has an extremely supportive landowner that thought ship building was an important use for the waterfront and economy of Boston.

“We are the perfect use,” he said. “We blend together elements of manufacturing, marine high-tech development and environmentally friendly ideals all at the same time. We pay good wages to a year round workforce. We currently have 60 employees but at the new facility we will be able to grow that number to 90 by 2015 making us one of the largest manufactures in the City of Boston.”

The Charlestown Neighborhood Council will be reviewing the request as early as their February meeting.