The former Riverside Boatworks site is one step closer to becoming a community rowing center. The City of Revere purchased the Boatworks site as part of a larger Riverfront master planning process at the Pines and Saugus Rivers that also encompasses the redevelopment of Gibson Park and the private development of the G&J towing yard.
During a public meeting on Thursday, April 7, city officials and consultants laid out the results of a feasibility study for the future development of the Boatworks property.
“This was a boatyard for a long time, but during the master plan process we recognized a lot of potential in how we could extend Gibson Park,” said John McAllister of McAllister Marine Engineering. “We could create some connections and have some functionality, some kind of community rowing or getting people to the water because there isn’t a lot of good water access for the public along the Pines and the Saugus River in this area.”
McAllister and consulting architect Arrowstreet performed the feasibility study of the site with the two existing buildings. The consultants considered three options: a complete rehabilitation upgrading the two existing buildings, a partial rehab upgrading the existing brick building and demolishing the smaller building and building new on that portion, or a complete new reconstruction.
“We want to maintain the existing footprint, or at least the existing square footage as much as possible because we are in an Area of Critical Environmental Concern,” said David Bois of Arrowstreet. He said extending the footprint of the building in the area would make permitting difficult.
Overall, the goal is to create a community center for rowing and small craft kayaks, Bois said. All options include community space, gym areas, and additional amenities in addition to boat storage. Bois said the exact layout and functionality is still up in the air. “Once the city works and finds an operator, this could change, but it is a starting point to evaluate each of the different options on an equal footing,” he said.
Bois said the consultants believe the partial rebuild is the most cost-effective long-term option for a community rowing center at the boatyard.
“This is really encouraging and builds upon the ideas that came out of the master plan,” said Bob O’Brien, the city’s economic development director.
O’Brien noted that permitting could still be a challenge for the project and it could be some time before construction begins. He asked whether there is a way some part of the rowing program could be instituted on a more temporary basis before final construction is completed. Bois said that if the city moves forward with the partial rehabilitation option, the current brick building could be rehabbed first and used for boat storage.
Elle Baker, the city’s open space and environmental planner, said the city is looking to fund the design phase of the boatyard project through grants, and that the plans should be at 60 percent completed by July. “We will go from there and be applying for Seaport Economic Council funds for final design and permitting,” said Baker.