The Edgewater City Council approved the Boston Whalers’ request to build a temporary metal structure in the city during its September 27 meeting.
It will be used for a temporary Customer Experience Center where customers can make an appointment to learn more about what Boston Whaler has to offer.
The temporary building and future permanent site (if the temporary center proves successful) will be at US 1 and Legendary Way.
Boston Whaler has maintained its position in Edgewater as an outlet for employment and a known partner of the city. According to the council’s agenda item summary, as of September, the company employed “more than 1,300 people at the Edgewater facility” and “expressed a willingness to establish the roots of its business here in Edgewater.”
As a test market, the temporary building would allow Boston Whaler to understand the potential market and overall response to an Experience Center. Since the proposal goes against the city’s Land Development Code in that it fails to meet landscaping, parking and building type requirements, Boston Whaler sought council approval.
Boston Whaler proposed a 12-month trial period for the 864-square-foot metal building (with optional extensions) to determine if they should go ahead with the project and build a larger permanent building on the site. The accepted Memorandum of Understanding states that if it is determined that a permanent building and center would be a positive development, Boston Whaler may begin that process. The permanent structure will adhere to the city code.
Customers can expect to make an appointment to visit the showroom, but they could walk in at some point, as Boston Whaler representative Katie Hansen said there may be open hours. However, “we are going to test everything, this is all new to us.”
Councilman Jonah Powers noted that the provided renderings of the building were “phenomenal” and appear to show some curb appeal. Ms. Hansen confirmed that the renderings continue to improve and are more refined than the original.
Councilman Powers also highlighted some benefits of the site itself, including that the temporary building will be “less than 1,000 square feet” and that “the property is already there, we’re not going to find new property and tear things down, so it’s a good place for something like this.”
Boston Whaler will use the same space for a permanent building if requested.
The general consensus is that the project itself is excellent and could be incredibly beneficial to the community.
It could draw attention to local Edgewater businesses as people travel to visit the Experience Center. According to Ms. Hansen, the experience center will result in “factory tours and (Boston Whaler) inviting all of our international customers who come from all over the world.” If successful, the Experience Center could potentially increase Edgewater’s overall revenue, as visitors are required to use local hotels or restaurants and are able to visit tourist destinations.
Councilwoman Christine Power said the idea (and eventual execution now that it has been approved) is exciting as “Boston Whaler has been a part of this community for a while… it’s exciting to have something that’s right on Route 1 by where people can walk by and not only see the sign or the entrance, but actually see the Boston Whaler.”
Mayor Mike Thomas also expressed his enthusiasm for a deeper partnership between Boston Whaler and the Edgewater community, stating that “we have three of the best Edgewater boat builders in all of America” and how “you can take a chainsaw and cut Boston Whaler in the middle and both ends will float, there is no better boat than a Boston Whaler.”