Anchors far? City launches bidding process for popular location on Charlestown waterfront

BPDA officials said they were auctioning off rental rights because of good governance principles, not because they had a particular problem with how Sinclair and his team brought a swept corner to life. by the wind of the old Navy Yard.

Sinclair, meanwhile, said he understood the reasoning, although he wished he had a little more time to rule the place before he had to face potential rivals.

“For me, that’s part of doing business with a municipality,” Sinclair said. “Things go out to bid. Anyone who complains is not in the right business. I think it should have been a longer tenure, but these guys like to do things level, and I don’t think we have to worry about anything because we did a good job.

The BPDA is seeking to issue a new license to use the property from March 2022 to February 2025, with options to extend the agreement for another two years. The goal is to find a use that brings people to the water’s edge and supports local artists and entrepreneurs. The city would charge $ 3,000 per month, mostly for maintenance costs, and then at least 15% of gross revenue, although the operator could cut that part, perhaps to nothing, by getting credit for organizing costs. free events there. The ultimate goal of BPDA is to divert rent money to events. This structure is basically how Sinclair’s Anthem Group pays for the use of the site today. The formula has allowed Anthem to pay for nearly $ 200,000 in free events over the past three years, from a portion of food and drink sales.

“It’s more than a beer garden,” said Devin Quirk, director of real estate at BPDA. “This is truly an art and event space for the community. “

The entrance to The Anchor at the Charlestown Navy Yard.Jim Davis / Globe staff

The anchor grew out of a larger BPDA effort in 2018 to find creative uses to activate various sections of the Navy Yard.

“It’s a really beautiful and unique part of Boston,” Quirk said. “[But] it is difficult to access. We wanted things that would attract people.

They were given a wide array of ideas, including floating classrooms and a Ferris wheel. Sinclair’s relatively modest vision for The Anchor got the nod.

Part of the appeal to him was the underused nature of the space: grass and trees, the remains of an old military building, and breathtaking views of the city skyline. The property also houses a memorial to Korean War veterans. He estimates that Anthem spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to renovate it, including the conversion of a lawn mower cabin to a kitchen.

“When my team and I were walking the field, it was love at first sight,” said Sinclair. “It’s a naturally beautiful canvas that we knew we could turn into something better.”

The initial rights were only to last one year. Then COVID-19 struck, and city officials have refused to re-bid the land until now. While the exterior nature of the business gave the Anchor added appeal at a time when many people were uncomfortable eating and drinking inside, Sinclair said pandemic disruptions such as forced shutdowns and supply chain issues hurt her business more than it helped it.

“All kinds of things that could have increased the cost of doing business did it,” Sinclair said.

Councilor Lydia Edwards recalls an early controversy surrounding the idea of ​​setting up a beer garden next to a war memorial. There were also some concerns at the beginning about the waste. But Edwards said the operation has long proven to be an important addition to the community.

“They seem to have done well for the neighborhood,” said Edwards, who represents Charlestown. “I think [calling it a] the beer garden diminishes what it is. It is a wonderful outdoor gathering place.

Igloos for customers at anchor at Charlestown Shipyard.
Igloos for customers at anchor at Charlestown Shipyard. Jim Davis / Globe staff

Sinclair, of course, plans to bid on the new contract. But it hasn’t been easy planning next year’s events or renovations without knowing if he’ll be back.

Count East Boston’s Chad Macomber among those who will be disappointed if The Anchor doesn’t return. He and his fiancee had their first date there in 2019 and have been back several times since. He relishes the common “backyard party” vibe and those million dollar views. They even plan to organize their wedding there.

“I don’t think he should come out to bid,” Macomber said. “They should give them another spin over there and see what they can do with the entertainment. There is really nothing else like it in this area.

Shawn Cavalieri, a resident of Navy Yard, said he recognized the potential of the site when it was still empty. He befriended Sinclair soon after opening The Anchor.

“Every time I think it’s done, they just make it better and better,” Cavalieri said. “I feel bad for them that he’s in the running again, only because they’ve done so much in such a short time.”

Jon Chesto can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on twitter @jonchesto.

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