Three Proponents Respond to BPDA’s RFP for Charlestown’s Shipyard Park

A virtual Boston Planning Development Agency (BPDA) meeting was held Tuesday night that featured the three teams that have answered the BPDA’s Request for Proposal (RFP)  for waterfront activation at Shipyard Park in the Charlestown Navy Yard.

The Lyons Group, Night Shift Brewing, and the Anthem Group have all submitted proposals to BPDA and presented to the community at Tuesday’s meeting. The Anthem Group has already run the successful Anchor, a seasonal outdoor venue, at the Navy Yard since 2019.

First up was the Lyons Group, which runs Sonsie on Newbury Street as well as over a dozen other restaurants and bars in Boston. 

The Lyons Group’s Vincent Lombardi said the restaurant groups proposed opening the ‘Seasons of Sonsie’ at the Navy Yard, or S.O.S. for short.

Lombardi argued that the history of Sonsie as one of Boston’s longest standing most popular restaurants would be an instant draw and the brand recognition would be a shot into the arm for all ages and walks of life at the Navy Yard.

The group’s focus would be on delivering a high quality product that Lombardi said the Lyons Group has provided since Sonsie’s inception in 1993.

Offerings would include seasonal food and beverage menus overseen by the team that currently operates Sonsie. This food and beverage program would serve as the anchor, and primary revenue generator, for all other events and happenings the group is planning. The group has 40 years of experience in entertainment in Boston and a myriad of resources and connections to tap into in order to bring a vibrant scene to the Navy Yard. The company’s event sales staff would all be deployed to promote the Navy Yards as an extension of Sonsie. 

Next, Anthem Group representatives said they would continue their existing Navy Yard model, The Anchor team, which has run food, drink and other outdoor programming at the Navy Yard for the past three years, said they have already demonstrated proficient event execution, which is already tailored to The Navy Yard. 

Anthem representatives argued that they are already well versed in operating within the Navy Yard’s established residential neighborhood and appreciative of the historical nature of the land. While other potential operators may have experience tailored toward a bar, nightclub or snack-shack setting, the group said their experience focuses on community initiatives and public facing events of all scales which, “harmonizes perfectly with the BPDA’s mission to activate the space.”

The group said they would also refine and enhance past operations at the Navy Yard.

Finally, Nightshift Brewing, a hospitality and brewing based company, pitched handling all day-to-day service and operations for the Shipyard Park Activation. This includes, but is not limited to, events management, hospitality relations, product handling, warehousing, delivery, and logistics.

For the past four years Night Shift has successfully operated Beer Gardens on the Department of Conservation and Recreation Property on the Charles River and owners said they have a proven track record of creating welcoming and accessible destinations for neighbors. In the past, Night Shift has partnered with local educational groups such as the Audubon Society to educate the public about local history and the environment as well as partnering extensively with local musicians, artisans, and artists at its beer gardens and brick and mortar locations. Night Shift would plan to partner with local educational institutions, performing and visual artists, provide lawn games such as Corn-Hole, local Farmers Markets, and create temporary art exhibits.

The brewing company is also willing and able to invest in site improvements such as high-end furniture, lighting, plants, and signage.

Tuesday’s meeting kicks off a two and half week comment period, during which time Charlestown community members can provide feedback on each proposal to the BPDA.

The Shipyard is a 12-acre community park featuring gardens, a playground, paved walkways, a granite amphitheater, public seating, and the Massachusetts Korean War Veterans Memorial.

The BPDA is interested in building upon the success of previous activation, like the Anchor’s recent beer garden at the park, with a new qualified party to enter into a license agreement with the BPDA to activate Shipyard Park.

The chosen party will enter into a lease with the BPDA for three annual terms running from March 1, 2022 – February 28, 2023, March 1, 2023 – February 29, 2024, and March 1, 2024 – February 28, 2025 and pay a flat monthly rent of $3,000 plus a minimum of 15 percent of monthly gross receipts.

In 2007, the BPDA completed the Waterfront Activation Network and Water-Dependent Use Management Plans for the Navy Yard, which augmented both the 1991 Municipal Harbor Plan and the Navy Yard Master Plan. The plans promoted and conceptualized a proposal to expand the public’s access to and enjoyment of the waterfront, watersheet, and the Navy Yard.

Building upon the plans and strong expressions of interest for various types of public activation, the BPDA requested proposals in 2018 from interested, able, and ready proponents to activate the waterfront and watersheet of the Navy Yard through temporary, seasonal, and/or recurring uses and programming that would enhance the enjoyment of the area.

A license was awarded in 2019 to the Anthem Group that subsequently set up the Anchor beer and wine garden, the proceeds from which supported public programming and public realm investments in Shipyard Park. The license was extended through the 2020 and 2021 seasons.

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