As the sun was setting on Shipyard Park during a recent Friday afternoon, a strange thing was taking place around the fountain.
There was activity.
People were socializing over drinks.
Kids were playing mega-checkers.
And there was a vibe to the area rather than an isolation.
Anchor Venue has opened up its outdoor beer/wine garden and event space for the season at Shipyard Park, and after a slow month due to rain, the space is beginning to fulfill its charge from the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) to bring life to the park.
Chris Sinclair and Ashley Mercurio of The Anthem Group have brought on Shelby Ellwell to manage the program at Shipyard in the Navy Yard, and are looking forward to a great summer as one of the three chosen activation proposals for the area.
“The emphasis is not on the alcohol, but on the space and the program elements,” said Sinclair. “The full program calendar is coming in June. There will be an open market, live music, children’s’ movies, trivia nights, a public art installation and even Shakespeare on the Steps.
“The Anchor is the kick-off to six months of bringing programming and some activity to the space here,” he said. “When we looked at the space, we saw a space that needed rehabilitation, but inherently was beautiful – the waterfront and the skyline were there. It had all the elements. We’ve done some masonry, some carpentry work and electrical work. That has brought it to life and there’s more to come.”
The BPDA said it has been pleased so far with Anchor, even though the early season was rainy and cold.
“We are pleased that Anthem Group’s outdoor community gathering space, with activities for residents and visitors of all ages, along with beer and wine service, has had a successful start this year,” read a statement from the BPDA. “After a ‘soft-open’ in mid-May, approximately 2,500 people have enjoyed the overall physical space and the various public amenities it has to offer, including complimentary lawn and board games, a variety of seating arrangements, and a community bike rack and library. A majority of those using the space are families, with a consistent mix of neighbors, Boston residents and tourists. It is a dog-friendly environment with dozens of dogs per day frequenting the space and enjoying the complimentary water dishes, treats, and toys. Additionally, the curated lighting scheme has enhanced the utilization of the space into the evening hours.”
The BPDA is not charging the Anthem group a significant rent to operate their concession. Instead, under the license agreement, Anthem will set aside a minimum of 15 percent of their gross sales for free, inclusive public programming throughout the Navy Yard. This programming starts this month and will include a Waterfront Wellness Series, guided Navy Yard field trips for local kids groups in the day, movie nights and other social and arts themed events.
Sinclair added that one of the most popular places to hang out is the upper floor on Shipyard Park at the brick structure – an area that has been closed for years. He said they call it the Crow’s Nest, and another nook above the fountain with a prime seat is called the Captain’s Quarters.
He said they are adding creative lighting day-by-day – including some nice lighting elements for the fountain. There is family bowling, a public piano, the library, 200 lawn/board games, five custom built cornhole courts and furniture such as Adirondack chairs and bean bags.
All of it has equaled out to a very nice place to spend and evening or afternoon in what was an underutilized, hidden-gem area of the Navy Yard.
The hours now are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday; and 4-11 p.m. on Monday to Thursday.