Four Projects, Including Ship Plan, Move Forward in Navy Yard

Four proposals have advanced in the Boston Planning and Development Agency’s (BPDA) effort to activate the Navy Yard, including one local proposal to create a floating restaurant on a ship in dry dock.

BPDA Director of Real Estate Devin Quirk told the Patriot-Bridge that they have moved four of the six proposals through to the next step of the activation process, with the hopes that they would be in place by the summer months.

“If ultimately selected, these proposals would offer short-term activation and would operate for trial period from May to October,” said Quirk. “In the coming weeks the BPDA will be working closely to further review these four proposals and determine if any will qualify for a temporary license. We received a significant amount of community support for each of these four proposals during the first six week community comment period, as well as comments, which raised valid concerns about noise, management, safety and hours of operation that need to be addressed.

“We believe each of these proposals has the potential to bring Bostonians from across the City to enjoy the waterfront and the Charlestown Navy Yard,” he continued. “As we move to finalize the operators for this summer, we will be prioritizing ideas that promote equity and are welcoming for people of all ages, backgrounds, and income-levels.”

The proposals include:

•The USS Constitution Museum’s proposal to bring exhibits outside their building into the Navy Yard;

●SeaBoston’s proposed kayak rental program;

●Anthem Group’s proposal to create a series of arts and cultural events for Charlestown residents of all ages which will be supported by an outdoor community gathering space serving beer and wine, and;

● Balance Architect’s proposal to temporarily dock a historic ship for use as a floating restaurant with associated lighting exhibits and active programming space.

Of the four most expected the top three to move ahead, as they represented smaller efforts. Of the original six, three were very far reaching and a number of folks from the Navy Yard questioned whether they belonged in an activation plan. One of those was a proposal for a Ferris Wheel and repurposed cruise ships docked in the Yard.

Of those three larger plans, Balance Architects’ plan – in conjunction with Pier 6 Restaurant and the Nolan Group – was the lone one to emerge to the next process.

“We are thrilled to be one of the selected teams and look forward to working with the community to activate the Navy Yard this summer,” said the Balance group in a statement on Wednesday.

Some residents – particularly in Flagship Wharf – had concerns about the ship plan, which also includes creative lighting across the Dry Dock, and potential noise that it would create.

The restaurant operations would mainly be seafood and a raw bar, said Pier 6 operator Charlie Larner.

Quirk said the BPDA felt that proposal was in line with the character and history of the Navy Yard.

“The Ferris Wheel was not what we were looking for because it was not in context with the Navy Yard or historically accurate,” he said. “That’s not what the ship is. It’s historically accurate and ships have been in the Navy Yard for centuries. Ships were building in the dry dock…From a character perspective, it makes sense…In terms of the restaurant, we feel like it’s appropriate at this point.”

He said the two rejected proposals were good, but were outside the scope of a temporary RFP process.

“We also received two additional proposals which included thoughtful ideas deserving of discussion, however both require permanent or semi-permanent capital investments which are outside the scope of this temporary activation RFP,” he said.

The process will now move back to the community with a public meeting on Feb. 27 at the Harvard Kent School, 6:30 p.m. They will discuss next steps and the hopes for getting the temporary licenses in place by May or June.

“The Navy Yard has a wall around it and it is a place that was made to be difficult to get into,” he said. “We want to break down that wall figuratively so that it can be a place for all ages, incomes and backgrounds.”

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