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Bids received for Charlestown’s Pier 5 redevelopment

by Liz Hughes

The Boston Planning and Development Agency is reviewing three bids for the redevelopment of Pier 5 in the Charlestown Navy Yard.

Built in 1912, the original wood pier was reconstructed with concrete and steel in 1943. According to project documents, the pier, as it stands today, is not salvageable and needs to be demolished. Redevelopment of Pier 5 would rehabilitate the blighted structure and help complete the implementation of the vision for the redevelopment of the Charlestown Navy Yard.

Redevelopment of the Charlestown Navy Yard includes waterfront enhancements for both local residents and workers, as well as visitors, including the creation of a year-round destination and improved access, as well as increasing water-dependent uses like sailing facilities, marinas and water-transit facilities. 

Three companies submitted bids for the projects: Navy Blue LLC, 6M Development and Urbanica. 

Navy Blue, LLC, a partnership of Charlestown Marina, Parent + Diamond and Urban Spaces, is proposing what they call Boston’s “first floating community,” which would replace the existing pier with 115,000 square feet of live-aboard vessel space. It would be a 55-slip marina, designed to accommodate 122 of these vessels ranging in size from 530 square feet to 2,100 square feet. Additionally, the proposal includes creating a marina community with a floating pavilion for outdoor space, as well as a stop for water shuttles. 

6M’s proposal also calls for a floating community of homes and parks, selectively demolishing and retaining parts of the pier to create four sturdy islands as anchoring points for the floating homes, “merging the canal feeling of Amsterdam with the dynamic tidal range of Boston’s inner harbor.” The 172,000 square foot residential community would include a combination of townhouses, duplexes and apartments on islands connected by a harborwalk running from the landward side to the pier’s end to allow for pedestrian and emergency vehicle access. Some units would have access to a boat slip, and there is also space for a water shuttle stop. 

Urbanica is proposing the development of 89 income-restricted housing units consisting of 15 studios, 39 one bedrooms, 22 two bedrooms and 13 three bedrooms. The building footprint would be designed as a public rooftop urban farm that would provide community garden plots and harvest areas for an adjoining restaurant. The proposal also includes public green space.

The three bids received follow years of planning and discussion.

In November of 2018, the BPDA held a community meeting where they shared that the cost to demolish and rebuild the pier would be at least $16 million and that the agency would pursue an RFP to explore options for the pier’s redevelopment. Also at that meeting, BPDA officials said if that wasn’t feasible, the pier could be demolished and would be very unlikely to be rebuilt. 

In October 2019, the BPDA sought community feedback about releasing the RFP. Community members indicated they were open to exploring various options, including a marina, residential units and open space. They also expressed concerns about potential congestion, noise and view obstruction. A priority was placed on resilience to sea-level rise.

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