Hornblower Coming To Bridgeport Boatworks

Bridgeport Boatworks and RCI officials were beaming recently as Connecticut’s Governor and local officials all descended on the Boatworks helipad to announce the inclusion of the Hornblower Group to Bridgeport Harbor. And why not? The promise of a major international ferry company coming to Bridgeport has serious positive ramifications. If you’re wondering how could this happen 60 miles from the Big Apple you need only revert to Bridgeport’s original Harbor plan.

Decades ago, when City leaders targeted the East Side Peninsula, now named Steelpointe Harbor, as an ideal spot for redevelopment — they predicted correctly that its location on the harbor could attract water related development. The East Side and the East End of the harbor leading to Pleasure Beach had for years been significant sites for industry and neighborhood jobs for those who lived there. And it was the city’s vision and past history that helped attract RCI Marine, a prominent marina and waterfront developer.

The RCI Group, now headquartered in Bridgeport, is a fully integrated, multi-dimensional real estate organization nationally recognized for its premier marina, residential and waterfront developments. It’s projects and operations have been located throughout the Midwest and the Eastern seaboard of the United States. The RCI Group is widely regarded in the eastern United States and the Caribbean for providing a full, first class array of real estate services to a select group of developers specializing in the creation of unique, luxury, multi-dimensional marine related waterfront destinations.

Their Vision for Steelpointe Harbor on the East Side and the Seaview Avenue RCI sites on the East End of Bridgeport Harbor embraces the harbor’s assets utilizing the waterfront to attract visitors, consumers, boaters and the commercial boating industry. Working with the natural resource, they began by creating a state-of-the-art marina, restaurant and retail operation that has now been joined by Bridgeport Boatworks, a full service shipyard that is already making waves and ready to grow.

Fast forward to now, on April 5th, 2021, Gov. Ned Lamont, Rep. Jim Himes and Mayor Joe Ganim held a news conference with Bridgeport Boatworks announcing a new agreement with Hornblower Group that will provide new opportunities to the community. The regional press’ turnout just further proves how important this growth is for both Bridgeport and Connecticut as a whole and the support behind this project.

The Hornblower Group is the world’s leading provider of water-based experiences with headquarters in San Francisco, Chicago, New York and London. The group’s expansive portfolio reflects almost a century of sector expertise and innovation, which over time has continually redefined the marine hospitality industry, establishing a portfolio of distinctive award-winning brands across multiple categories including Hornblower Cruises & Events (Dining & Sightseeing), American Queen Steamboat Company and Victory Cruises Lines (Overnight) and NYC Ferry, HMS Ferries and Seaward Marine Services (Transportation). Hornblower also operates the official ferry boat service to Alcatraz Island, the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island Memorial Museum on behalf of the National Park Service as well as Hornblower Niagara Cruises on behalf of the Niagara Parks Commission.

So it is quite the coup for Bridgeport Boatworks to have drawn this international company for a vessel maintenance, upgrade, and retrofit facility at the Boatworks facility in Bridgeport Harbor. The development, planned for operation by third or fourth quarter of 2021, is slated to bring new jobs and advance Boatworks as an important hub for regional maritime services. The facility will feature a 720-ton travel lift for hoisting large vessels — among the largest lifts in New England and will complement the 75-ton and 200-ton lifts already operating at Boatworks.

Hornblower expects to create 45-60 employment positions at the facility while Boatworks anticipates 20 new employees will be recruited as the facility becomes a more robust regional hub for industrial maritime needs. Boatworks plans to invest $8 million to improve and expand the facility’s infrastructure.

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont said, “It is great that new, value added jobs are coming to Bridgeport, and that Connecticut is advancing as a regional maritime hub for industry.”

Hornblower Chief Operating Officer of Ferry and Transportation Services, Scott Thornton stated, “We are pleased to bring our expansive, industry-leading fleet — from the East Coast and eventually the Midwest — for service and maintenance to this new port facility, Bridgeport Boatworks. We look forward to partnering with the City of Bridgeport to establish and build upon its reputation as a global maritime hub.”

Boatworks sits on the Seaview Avenue site managed by RCI Group. Robert Christoph Jr., President of Operations of RCI Group, said, “Hornblower is an industry leader which has recognized the significance of having a first-class facility in Bridgeport and we are happy that they have joined us with a substantial operation in Connecticut.”

Harry Boardsen, Owner of Bridgeport Boatworks, stated, “We look forward to Hornblower as a tenant, as they will strongly advance the Boatworks’ prospects as a preeminent regional maritime facility.”

The commercial and retail industry on Seaview Avenue perfectly complements the Bridgeport Harbor Marina on Steelpointe along with Bass Pro Shops a retailer of boats and boating and fishing supplies among other products. In fact, the Bridgeport Harbor with a new fuel dock, an oyster fishing company, Bridgeport Port Jefferson Ferry, and other nearby retailers, entertainment and recreational facilities have created a synergy of activities and venues that is sure to make the city into a visitor hub once the pandemic wanes.

Even right at this moment you can enjoy gourmet seafood and drinks-at Boca Oyster Bar overlooking the beautiful harbor waterfront while you dine. The 2nd Annual Steelpointe Yacht & Charter Show, an event that RCI Group and their partner Showpiece Shows have developed together, draws in thousands of industry leaders and boating enthusiasts, further putting Bridgeport on the map as go to destination for marine life activities. The next show will be Fathers Day weekend, June 17-20.

Harry Boardsen of Boatworks said recently that, “As soon as I signed the lease with Bobby I called Hornblower knowing we could be their consolidated service center. Now we forsee further development and expansion with new bulkhead work and docks. We got a lot more to go in business and job growth. This location has more capacity for new equipment and services and we will be expanding.”

Bridgeport Boatworks is the New England’s newest Yacht and Commercial Shipyard. Boatworks launched in 2018. The third property in a family of Connecticut waterfront operations, Bridgeport Boatworks ownership and management staff are seasoned in yard ownership, management and development.

RCI is creating a Lifestyle brand and series of complementing facilities on both sides of the harbor. Overall, the development at Steelpointe Harbor aims to bring residents and visitors back to the waterfront through designated live, work, and play spaces.

What’s important to note is that the recent Hornblower announcement will soon be followed by more exciting news for Bridgeport Harbor and its developers. All of that expects to serve as a stimulus for future water related growth around the harbor and adjacent neighborhoods of the city.

About Hornblower Group

Hornblower Group is the world’s leading provider of water-based experiences with headquarters in San Francisco, Chicago, New York and London. The group’s expansive portfolio reflects almost a century of sector expertise and innovation, which over time has continually redefined the marine hospitality industry, establishing a portfolio of distinctive award-winning brands across multiple categories including Hornblower Cruises & Events (Dining & Sightseeing), American Queen Steamboat Company and Victory Cruises Lines (Overnight) and NYC Ferry, HMS Ferries and Seaward Marine Services (Transportation). Hornblower also operates the official ferry boat service to Alcatraz Island, the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island Memorial Museum on behalf of the National Park Service as well as Hornblower Niagara Cruises on behalf of the Niagara Parks Commission. For more information visit www.hornblower.com

About Boatworks

Bridgeport Boatworks is New England’s newest Yacht and Commercial Shipyard. The third property in a family of Connecticut waterfront operations, Bridgeport Boatworks ownership and management staff are seasoned in yard ownership, management and development. Bridgeport Boatworks prides itself on its growing reputation as a world class Shipyard facility providing outstanding customer service. For more information visit www.bridgeportboatworks.com

About RCI

The RCI Group, headquartered in Bridgeport, Connecticut, is a fully integrated, multi-dimensional real estate organization nationally recognized for its premier residential and waterfront developments. It’s projects and operations have been located throughout the Midwest and the Eastern seaboard of the United States. With five decades of experience, the RCI Group excels in real estate development, property acquisition, asset management, property management, leasing and ownership. Today, the RCI Group and its related companies are widely regarded in the eastern United States and the Caribbean for providing a full, first class array of real estate services to a select group of developers specializing in the creation of unique, luxury, multi-dimensional marine related waterfront destinations. www.rcimarine.com