By Dan Murphy
The Department of Conservation and Recreation and its development team unveiled the design for the proposed Esplanade Riverfront Pavilion at the third and final public meeting on the matter at the State Transportation Building Wednesday while proposing a unique, public-private partnership for underwriting the project.
Watertown-based architect Maryann Thompson said the first level of the two-story building would accommodate office space for Hill House and other partnering organizations while the second story would feature a “multi-purpose” space that could accommodate various sports, theatre and other programming.
An outdoor space on the building’s second floor, which Thompson described as a “giant New England-style porch,” would provide terraced landscaping that would allow for seating, and could accommodate shuffleboard and other activities, as well as offer unobstructed views of the Charles River.
Sitting atop the second level would be a “green-roof” that would also be occupiable, Thompson said.
DCR Commissioner Leo Roy said since the project presently has no funding, the state would issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) seeking an entity or entities to enter into a 10-agreemnt to finance construction of the building and eventually operate it. The RFP is expected to go out for bidding next month, with responses due in February of next year. Afterwards, Roy anticipates at least a two-year construction process.
Roy expects the annual budget of operating the facility would be between $750,000 and $1 million, and that it would be made available for private, special events to help underwrite this cost.
State Rep. Jay Livingstone said, “The project has evolved tremendously. It’s great to see all the public comments and viewpoints come together, and I think it’s going to be great.”
Duane Lucca, a project stakeholder and representative for the West End Museum, said he hoped that the pavilion wouldn’t be “controlled by a small contingent of groups, but rather open to the wide community.”
Meanwhile, Thompson said the development team had conceived three concepts for repurposing the Upper Gates Lock House on the Esplanade, all of which would “keep the fabric of the building.”
One option involved a year-round “interpretive center”; a café with outdoor seating that would be open in the spring, summer and fall; and a space for Nordic ski-rentals during the winter months, she said.
Public comments on the pavilion are due on Friday, Nov. 17, and can be submitted online to http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dcr/public-outreach/submit-public- comments/ or
in writing to the Department of Conservation and Recreation, Office of Public Outreach, 251 Causeway St., sixth floor, Boston, MA 02114.