Public Gets a Look at Charlesbank Landing Project Proposed for the Esplanade

Details of the proposed Charlesbank Landing on the Esplanade, including a timeline for the project, as well as several alternatives for its multi-purpose recreational space, were unveiled during a public meeting held on Thursday, June 22, at the West End Branch Library, as well as virtually.

The Esplanade Association, which sponsored the meeting, is overseeing funding for the more than $20 million project, and will manage the operations of the future Charlesbank Landing over the next several decades.

A rendering of the riverside view of the proposed Charlesbank Landing
project on the Esplanade.

The two-acre project site will reclaim the area in and around the former Lee Pool complex on the Esplanade; it sits between the Longfellow Bridge and Museum of Science and is adjacent to the Teddy Ebersol’s Red Sox Fields, and Alfond Memorial Spray Deck, as well as the future site of Gronk Playground.

The project design includes plans for a two-story, year-round pavilion and visitors center, with a café that would offer indoor and outdoor seating; a covered plaza with a roofdeck, which would provide views of the Charles River and could accommodate yoga, among other activities; an outdoor nature play area; a “double-wide” community room with a divider; and multiple public restrooms, said Alison Badrigian, the Esplanade Association’s director of projects and planning.

​One unique feature of the proposed pavilion is its slanted roof, which would resemble a butterfly’s wings and allow for solar panels to be positioned at different, optimal angles, said Badrigian.

The plan also includes a rain garden, which will collect 100 percent of the stormwater on site and be located between the pavilion and the Charles River, added Badrigian, as well as 50 new trees and additional plantings on the grounds.

Additionally, the site plan includes new benches and seating, new safety lighting, and new connections “to help [visitors] feel this is a seamless connection to the rest of the park,” said Badrigian,

Meanwhile, four design options were unveiled for a multi-purpose recreational space adjacent to the pavilion, including a “blank” open -grass space for frisbee playing, sunbathing, picnicking, and an occasional fitness class; an artificial turf soccer field for ages 9 and below, along with other events, such as a farmers market; two permeable-surface or asphalt, multi-purpose courts, which would be striped for different games, and an adjacent grass area for passive recreational activities, like frisbee; and a configuration comprising two tennis courts and a basketball court.

Badrigian noted that the fourth design option could help compensate for the loss of the tennis courts previously located by the State Police barracks on the Esplanade, as well as for the loss of the now-closed Basketball City in the West End.

Jen Mergel, the Esplanade Association’s James & Audrey Foster executive director, said the project is “still in the schematic phases,” and that its design has yet to be finalized.

“We’re hoping to get public feedback now,” she said, especially in regard to the preferred use or uses of the multi-purpose recreational space.

​As for the timeline, permitting is expected to wrap up by the spring of 2024 before construction documents can be completed and the project goes out to bid. Construction is then expected to take 14 months, beginning in the summer of 2024, with a ribbon cutting expected in the summer or fall of 2025, which would kick off Charlesbank Landing’s inaugural programming season, said Badrigian.

The project comes on the heels of a comprehensive public process led by the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation – the Esplanade Association’s partner in managing the Esplanade. DCR retained Maryann Thompson Architects and Michael Van Valkenburg Associates for the process, which engaged more than 25 stakeholder groups in a nine-month analysis that included feedback from nearly a dozen community meetings and hundreds of public comments.

Last year, the House and Senate both unanimously passed state legislation filed by Sen. Sal DiDomenico and Rep. Jay Livingstone to allow the DCR-owned project site to be leased to a private partner for 30 years, with a possible 10-year extension.

Visit to learn more about the project.

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