It was an organic melding of the Nolan Group, Navy Yard Hospitality and Balance Architects when they came together with a mutual interest in the City’s Navy Yard activation RFP this year.
With big ideas in mind, the three Navy Yard businesses began to talk about their interest in enlivening the Yard, and what came out of that partnership is an ambitious, yet simple, plan to bring in a permanent tall ship restaurant highlighted by creative lighting and new wayfinding markers using creative paint.
Philip Sima of Balance said he was excited about the RFP after having worked with Courageous Sailing recently to think about their space at the end of the pier in the Yard. He said he had some really big ideas, but then read the RFP and scaled back his plans.
That’s when he connected with Charlie Larner of Navy Yard Hospitality, who had been working on finding a site for a 245-foot tall ship that he had been working on buying from a yard in Halifax. His plan was to site the Cooks and Welton vessel on the harbor somewhere, and what better place than near his existing Pier 6 Restaurant.
What they came up with was a plan that would work in tandem to bring the tall ship to DryDock 2 as a raw bar restaurant, enhance it with a creative light display and use paint to help guide those in the Yard – restoring the old crane and opening up that as the entrance to the Yard from the National Park.
“The lighting is a real great example of tactical urbanism,” he said. “We would put LED lights over the dry dock in a vertical shape like a sail. I start smaller and it opens up bigger at the tall ship. You can imagine how magical that experience would be on a kayak.”
Larner, who also lives in the Yard, said he believes the overall plan could add a lot of activity to the Yard, and he thinks having a permanent tall ship restaurant can enhance everyone’s experience.
“It’s a tall ship with an oyster bar on it,” he said. “We would do lobster rolls, oysters, shellfish and host corporate events, weddings and functions. It would add another level to the Navy Yard…We could have this executed by the summer of 2019.”
Nolan said one of the key pieces of their proposal is that it follows the RFP, and it temporary in nature – as requested – with an exciting element.
“We had a great plan to do something there and then we read the RFP and understood what the community and the BPDA wanted,” he said. “We have three business owners here. I grew up in Charlestown. This is a special place to me and to all of us here. If there are any issues, we’re right here a pitching wedge away and easy to get ahold of.”