Island Housing Trust hosts Water Street housing design meeting

The Island Housing Trust has invited the public to discuss design ideas for affordable rental housing at 6 Water Street in Vineyard Haven, the site of a dilapidated house adjacent to the Stop and Shop.. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

The Island Housing Trust (IHT) will hold a public meeting on Monday, May 13, to discuss design ideas for affordable rental housing at 6 Water Street in Vineyard Haven.

The Water Street property, which includes a dilapidated house, is located between Stop and Shop supermarket and A-A Island Auto Rental, near Five Corners. It was donated to IHT by Steve Bernier, owner of Cronig’s Market, in May 2012, with the understanding it would be used for affordable housing.

“We thought it would be an opportunity for people, be it neighbors or interested community members, to offer comments or suggestions,” IHT executive director Philippe Jordi told The Times in a recent phone conversation.

“We’re not really quite sure how many units; we’re thinking at least four or maybe more,” Mr. Jordi said. “And there’s the possibility of potentially some small commercial use, perhaps an office or something like that. There’s a question as to whether we want parking on-site or off-site. It’s all still pretty much in the conceptual stage.”

IHT put out a request for design proposals about two months ago and narrowed the applicants down to three, architects James Weisman of Terrain Associates in Vineyard Haven and Dudley Cannada of Edgartown, and a building/design team led by general contractor Farley Pedler of DrewsCove Builders in Chilmark.

“We thought it would be fun to have kind of a competition,” Mr. Jordi said. “We had quite a few qualified applicants that responded, and they suggested that they all kind of take part in this initial concept design. And then based on that, we are hoping to select one to move forward and actually do the design work.”

At this stage in the planning, Mr. Jordi said Tisbury building and zoning inspector Ken Barwick recommended against IHT taking the old house down until the project is ready to move forward.

“We have no intention of investing anything until we have a clear idea of what we want to do and have the approvals in place to do it,” Mr. Jordi said. “We’re exploring the process with the town boards right now.”

Given the property’s proximity to the busy Five Corners intersection, Mr. Jordi said its use would probably be more suitable for affordable housing for individuals or couples.

“The location definitely presents some challenges, but it’s certainly well located in an area that provides a lot of benefits, too,” he added. “I think it has some real strengths, and we’re excited about exploring it. Obviously, it’s in a real important place, kind of the gateway to the community, and we want to make sure it fits in. And obviously there’s a lot going on in the area, with the proposal to expand Stop & Shop, so we want to take all of that into consideration as we move forward.”

Stop & Shop Supermarket Company announced plans in the spring of 2011 to expand its Vineyard Haven store, which included the space leased by Midnight Farm at the back of the building.

In May 2011, Stop & Shop bought the property and building adjacent to its Vineyard Haven market where the Golden Dragon Restaurant and Vineyard Sweats were located. Plans are to consolidate that building, the current supermarket, and the former Midnight Farm space into a single two-story facility.

Mr. Bernier purchased the house and property at 6 Water Street for $700,000 in May 2012 and donated it to IHT. It was one of the single largest affordable housing donations to IHT to date, Mr. Jordi said at the time.

The deed transfer included a restriction against use of the property in any aspect of the supermarket business or for any business that would compete with Cronig’s Market.

The meeting starts at 5 pm at the Vineyard Housing office at 346 State Road, behind the Tisbury Farm Market. For more information, call IHT at 508-693-1117 or email Mr. Jordi at