MVC approves Film Center theater building in Tisbury Marketplace

An illustration of a theater proposed at Tisbury Marketplace that would be leased long-term to the nonprofit Martha's Vineyard Film Society. — Photo courtesy of MVC

The Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) voted Thursday night to approve plans for a 3,000-square-foot theater building in the Tisbury Marketplace complex off Beach Road in Vineyad Haven. The building will house the Martha’s Vineyard Film Society (MVFS), a member-funded nonprofit arts organization.

The MVC reviewed the project as a development of regional impact (DRI). Applicant Reid “Sam” Dunn, an architect and developer of the Tisbury Marketplace, proposes to build the theater next to Rocco’s Family Style Italian Restaurant, in the corner slot of the L-shaped development.

Mr. Dunn plans to lease the building for 15 years to Film Society executive director Richard Paradise. The film society would do the build-out of the interior as a 190-seat all-purpose theater.

The 6-3 vote to approve included conditions Mr. Dunn offered. Mr. Dunn and Mr. Paradise agreed not to show movies before 7:30 pm during July and August, so as not to interfere with other Tisbury Marketplace businesses. They also will have two parking attendants on site an hour before a showing to direct movie-goers to a lot behind the theater to ensure film-goers park efficiently.

Ending jitters

Prior to the final vote, the commissioners disagreed over traffic and parking lot issues.”It’s a good organization in a wrong location,” commissioner Lenny Jason of Chilmark, said. “The site is already burdened. We already recognize there’s an issue with traffic and we can’t do anything about it. I move that the project be denied.”

Commissioners Christina Brown of Edgartown and Ned Orleans of Tisbury sided with Mr. Jason. Mr. Jason did not have the needed majority and his motion was defeated.

Commissioner John Breckenridge of Oak Bluffs followed with a motion to approve the project. However, he wanted to add a condition that Mr. Dunn and the other business owners who belong to the Tisbury Marketplace Condominium Association would agree to reverse the parking lot’s traffic pattern.

Mr. Breckenridge withdrew his motion after other commissioners convinced him that it would be unfair to Mr. Dunn to give the condo association control of his project as a third party. He made another motion to approve the project with the offers made by Mr. Dunn, as clarified by the MVC.

Mr. Jason, Ms. Brown, and Mr. Orleans voted no. Mr. Breckenridge, Fred Hancock of Oak Bluffs, Chris Murphy of Chilmark, Kathy Newman of Aquinnah, Linda Sibley of West Tisbury, and Brian Smith of West Tisbury voted yes. Commissioner Doug Sederholm of Chilmark, who is a practicing attorney, recused himself from the proceedings because he did legal work for the film society’s incorporation.