BPDA to Release RFP for Development of Challenging Pier 5

Though it was delayed a few months due to COVID-19 complications, the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) will petition its Board Thursday night to issue an RFP for the development of Pier 5 – a challenging development that will require more than $5 million just to demolish the condemned pier.

The Board is expected to approve the RFP after a community meeting with more than 100 in attendance showed support in the Navy Yard for some sort of redevelopment of Pier 5 – which is now fenced off and inaccessible.

“The input we got was people were open to development on the Pier as long as it was informed by overall concerns like flooding and climate change and balanced with open space,” said Project Manager Morgan McDaniel. “That’s important to us as well and it’s reflected in the RFP.”

The BPDA’s Devin Quirk said they will see what comes back from the RFP, if approved.

“It’s a challenging site and would be expensive to develop,” he said. “We see it as testing the market to see the interest with this. It’s also challenging from a permitting standpoint.”

McDaniel said if the RFP is approved Thursday, it would likely hit the streets by the end of August. She said they would probably make proposals due by October, and also cautioned that the costs to demolish the Pier are estimated at around $5 million just to start. Rebuilding the Pier would cost around $16 million, it is estimated.

Quirk said one potential use could be a marina to accent the new marina now being built next door at Pier 6 by Chuck and Ann Lagasse. Marinas are in high demand for the growing boating community, and it would also reduce the rebuilding costs to develop the Pier.

However, McDaniel and Quirk said they do expect to see some commercial/residential proposals that would include floating buildings. This has been “floated” several years ago by a downtown Boston developer and the idea has only gained in popularity.

“There could also be a commercial/residential development proposed, which could be a floating development,” said Quirk. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw responses that have a commercial/residential floating model.”

McDaniel said the BPDA has researched the idea and found some in San Francisco and in Europe, but so far the floating building concept has not gained traction in Boston yet.

Once all of the proposals are in and evaluated internally, McDaniel said they would likely present them for review to the community in January. The RFP would have been issued earlier in the year had it not been for delays due to COVID-19. The BPDA was prepared to issue the RFP in February or March.

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