Thursday, November 3, 2016

Riverfront Boathouse Building Committee Makes Progress

The Riverfront Boathouse Building Committee held its monthly meeting yesterday evening, to review progress on the design of a large banquet and rowing facility on the River at Harbor Park.

The design and engineering work is being done by Architectural Resources Cambridge of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Tighe & Bond, with offices in Connecticut.  They presented their current plans to the building committee, which is chaired by Councilman Gerry Daley.

The building will house Wesleyan and Middletown High Crew, replacing each of the current buildings that these teams use. It would also feature a large rowing tank, which the building committee hopes will be rented by multiple teams, to practice in the winter.  The top floor will be a banquet facility capable of seating over 300 people, to be rented out for large gatherings.

The team is on track to provide a design around the end of the year, and cost estimates a month or so after that. Daley indicated that he hoped that the Common Council would review these, and vote to support a bond referendum to finance the construction.  This vote on this might take place in May.

The Building Committee was told that no cost estimates would be available until the design was further completed.

The design and engineering team also said that this building could not be built until the State Department of Transportation changes the Route 9 on-ramp at Harbor Park.

More pictures below the jump.


Ridge Road Resident said...

This should also include the town rowing program. I am also curious to know how much of this Wesleyan will finance.

Janice said...

I am sickened by the size of this structure right along the River. It takes over Columbus Park and eliminates parking there. Why does the City need another banquet facility given that there's a restaurant right next door, the Wadsworth Mansion is available (and City owned)and the Inn on Main St. is available as well as other facilities around town. This design is over-the-top and will be very costly.

Wendy Sheil said...

This boathouse design includes space for the town rowing program

jon said...

Are any parts of the building to be open to the general public? What happened to the idea of a public small boat rental function?

Stephen Smith said...

It looks like an IKEA. Ironically, the advantage to actually having an IKEA there would be that I could use the building. Granted, would I still have to pay for my meatballs, but I wouldn't have to rent the whole restaurant. I agree with Janice and jon: What use is this huge publicly-funded building to the general public? Why is the city in the banquet hall rental business and why is it building facilities for a private institution with a 6 trillion dollar endowment (guesstimate). How can council vote to support a bond referendum to finance construction before Wesleyan's financial involvement and the final construction costs are fully disclosed? Maybe it doesn't matter since it can't happen until DOT revamps Rt. 9. So we spent a hundred thousand dollars (estimate) for designs for a building of indeterminate cost that can't be built until the state spends millions (and years) on the highway leading to it.

Mr. Fixit said...

UGLY boondoggle! As noted earlier in the process, this should be built and maintained by private enterprise, NOT the city. Build the boathouse/s and lease the property for the event building to a business that knows what they are doing.

Bill Flood said...

LOL Steve Smith. "IKEA" is on target. But while it seems a bit early/speculative, that's the nature of big projects like this... you have to keep all the different pieces moving forward. Unfortunately, one of the players is the state (DOT), so the city's not in total control.
(Note: I moved across the river, so while we hear a lot of noise from Harbor Park, I don't pay city taxes. Take this as you will.)

Middletown's worked hard to successfully incorporate historic/traditional building designs downtown. (For instance, the police station.) This design seems too modern (and kind of dull) for the city and the location. It just doesn't blend well, IMHO.
It also seems to swallow a lot of open space. I'd like to see model/drawing that shows how close it would be to the Canoe Club. I bet it would look pretty crowded.

As others noted, the city already owns a banquet facility (Wadsworth Mansion) -- and it's successful. I think the waterfront location would be in demand, bringing people and business into the city. Owning it and then leasing it to someone else to run seems reasonable. But where, exactly, do they expect over 300 banquet attendees to park? It's already a challenge down there. Maybe the Route 9 redesign would help, but I doubt it.

Overall, I'd suggest redesigning to better fit the historic downtown, and scaling down the size to reduce cost, preserve accessible open space on the river, and ease traffic and parking issues (which probably need legitimate study.)

I am, however, entirely in favor of building a giant pastry box (with giant pastries) on the other side of Route 9, as shown in the photo of the model.