Fresh Stop & Shop store plan returns to the MVC Thursday

Fresh Stop & Shop store plan returns to the MVC Thursday

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A photo illustration shows how the latest design for a new grocery store in Vineyard Haven would look. — Photo illustration courtesy of Martha's Vineyard Commission

Stop & Shop will return to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) Thursday night with a set of revised proposals it will present for consideration by the Island’s powerful regional permitting agency as part of its submission to build a new larger Vineyard Haven supermarket in Tisbury.

The hearing, scheduled to begin at 6 pm in the Tisbury Senior Center, will mark the sixth appearance by company representatives before the MVC since the public hearing process began in July.

Over the course of several months, supermarket officials have tinkered and tailored their plan to consolidate three abutting properties and remove the existing buildings to make room for a new two-story, 30,500-square-foot market, nearly doubling the size of the current Water Street store. The planned new store would include a parking lot for 41 vehicles in an enclosed area on the ground level.

Greg O’Brien, a consultant for Stop & Shop, said additional discussion surrounding traffic, size, and the architecture of the store should be expected.

“It is our hope that the public hearing process would come to a conclusion soon, given the number and length of hearings,” Mr. O’Brien said in a telephone call with The Times. “We look forward to continuing to work closely with the Martha’s Vineyard Commission and town officials. The process has made this a better project and one that serves the community in significant ways, in terms of a much improved store, area improvements and community benefits.”

According to a written offer submitted to the MVC on January 16, Stop & Shop is proposing a revised stormwater management plan, an updated open space and landscaping plan, free or subsidized bus fare for employees, police officer control of the Five Corners intersection, “delayed demolition” of 15 Cromwell Lane and a $50,500 contribution to affordable housing, among other offers.

More review expected

In an introductory addendum to a staff report on Stop & Shop’s latest offer titled “MVC staff comments on Stop & Shop’s offers of January 16, 2014,” MVC executive director Mark London said, “In the latest written offers, there are several items which Stop & Shop is no longer offering, things they had previously offered in written documents or at public hearings, such as definitely preserving the house at 15 Cromwell Lane or excluding a drug store or bank as possible uses within the store.”

Stop-and-Shop-1.JPGPast issues have included traffic around the Five Corners intersection as well as the size of the proposed store. In their latest bout with the MVC on November 21, commissioners heard two competing traffic studies, one from transportation planning and engineering firm Vanasse Hangen Brustlin (VHB) and the other from Keri Pyke of Boston-based Howard/Stein-Hudson Engineers (HSH), acting as a consultant for Stop & Shop.

Asked what the public can expect Thursday night, Mr. London said a full review of Stop & Shop’s proposal will be up for discussion.

“I think we’ll probably review any changes to the plans, such as the revised architectural drawings, and then spend much of our time reviewing the offers,” Mr. London said in an email to The Times. “The hearing could be closed that night, or could be continued to allow the applicant to revise the offers in light of what comes up at next week’s meeting.”

Longtime commissioner Linda Sibley of West Tisbury, owner of Vineyard Electronics, said traffic remains a key issue. “I’m deeply concerned,” she said. “The Five Corners is both the most important and one of the most challenged intersections and it is also the entranceway to the Island.”

Ms. Sibley, chairman of the MVC’s Land Use Planning Committee (LUPC), also noted the complexity of major projects similar to Stop & Shop.

“With these big complex projects, I sort of wish we could open a public hearing, the applicant could go away and then come back with answers,” Ms. Sibley said. “It’s difficult when it’s gone as long as this has. You get to the point where you wish you could say, great, we’ve worked it out, you have to chew over a lot of stuff, particularly when the process changes. But that’s the way things are. In this case, there happened to be a lot to go over.”

Trading places

Against the background of the MVC public hearing process, behind the scenes Elio Silva, owner of Vineyard Grocer and the nearby Tisbury Farm Market on State Road, and his agent, Robert Sawyer of Tisbury, a real estate broker and instructor, have promoted the notion that rather than build on its current site, Stop & Shop executives should look to a swap.

Mr. Silva has plans on the drawing board to consolidate his two existing grocery stores into a new three-story, 11,180-square foot complex that would include a grocery store and four apartments on property he owns on the corner of State Road and High Point Lane just a stone’s throw from Cronig’s Market, the Island’s other supermarket.

The MVC unanimously approved Mr. Elio’s application for a new “Trader Joe’s” style market in 2011, following a one-week development of regional impact public hearing process. The site on which he planned to build is the former Coca-Cola bottling plant and most recently a home furnishings store. In 2002, the MVC reviewed a proposal to build a gas station on the site as a DRI but rejected it, citing concerns about increased traffic along State Road, reliance on the automobile in general, and the pressure a new station might place on other Island gas retailers.

In a telephone conversation, Mr. Silva said the “swap,” would resolve traffic and parking issues while maintaining the aesthetic quality of downtown Vineyard Haven by building a smaller, more “to-scale” store.

“I myself always thought it was a bad idea,” Mr. Silva said of Stop & Shop’s plans to build on Water Street. “It’s a free country, I didn’t have a problem with seeing a new Stop & Shop being built bigger, but I think there are a lot of problems that they (MVC) are really not addressing.”

Mr. Silva said he thinks people would be interested in his plan as an alternative to the Water Street location, if they knew it was an option.

Mr. Silva said the idea for the swap came with the help of his friend and Island physician Dr. Michael Jacobs, who has a private practice, Vineyard Medical Services, nearby on State Road.

“I had discussed it with him and it seemed like a brilliant idea,” Dr. Jacobs told The Times. “The idea is to do an exchange where Stop & Shop could build a store further up State Road and keep the traffic out of downtown. In exchange, Elio could build a smaller store in the existing (Water Street) location. Everyone wins.”

Asked why, after drawing up plans and winning MVC approval to build on the High Point lot, he was interested in abandoning the plan, Mr. Silva pointed to a number of setbacks that have continued to cause unforeseen delays, including plans for a sewer line..

“So we started working and getting the sewer hook up that we needed,” he said. “The next step was going to be to start building this fall, and that’s when we started talking to Stop & Shop. So we decided to wait. We’ve got the finances lined up, and we got a contractor lined up. If we don’t do anything with Stop & Shop, we will continue to build as planned.”

Not buying it

“At this point, it’s only a rumor,” Ms. Sibley said of Mr. Silva’s proposal, which would place the new location adjacent to her business property. “This is a quasi-judicial process. That means it is a legal process. So legally we have to go on the facts. Things that might be swirling around on the outside are not a part of the public hearing process, so I consider this to be one of those things, and it’s something we can not consider.”

Stop & Shop consultant Greg O’Brien told The Times that Mr. Silva’s proposal is not even under consideration.

“The only appropriate site for Stop & Shop is the present site on Water Street,” Mr. O’Brien said. “Stop & Shop has spent close to two years carefully designing and reviewing its Water Street proposal. No other sites are under consideration by Stop & Shop.”


  1. I’m a customer at Stop and Shop, and love what they do for the Island, a 30,000′ sf store at water Street is too big, moving the SSA is not an option, if Mr. Silva is willing to do the swap and Stop & Shop is not willing to consider it. it shows who has the community’s best interest in mind

    1. There are other feasible locations for S&S to move their store to and it is disingenuous of their representive to state the only “appropriate” site is Water Street.

      1. they have a gold mine there and they know it. I bet this is, or will be, their most profitable store, and good for them!

      2. This reminds me of the original plans for enlarging/replacing the MV Hospital. The MVC was determined to find an alternate, more centralized location for the hospital. They finally relented.
        Everyone knows the Edgartown Stop & Shop is the gold mine of their supermarket empire. Can you blame them wanting to create a diamond in Vineyard Haven? Surely Stop & Shop is serving the island far, far better than A&P ever did.

    2. (sarcasm on) Mr Silva is suggesting this out of consideration for the community, that it would likely give his business and bank account a tremendous boost does not factor in at all. (sarcasm off)

      1. I think his idea is great. In fact, I propose that I be able to trade my home which is not on Edgartown Harbor for one of the homes along Winter St. They sit vacant most of the year. My family and I will be in downtown Edgartown and we’ll be able to easily walk to the downtown stores and restaurants. It’ll be so great for the economy! It’ll also reduce the traffic on West Tisbury road! I talked to one of my friends and he thinks it’s a great idea too. It’s a sacrifice on our part, but sometimes you just have to bite the bullet in order to help your community.

    3. I agree. How about Steve Bernier just give Stop and Shop his store? I mean, (in the ethic of Obama and the Progressives) how much money does one man need, after all? I jest, of course.

  2. I’m a bit confused Mr. Silva spoke with Dr. Jacobs and came up with this idea, but Stop & Shop wasn’t involved? It may very well be a good idea, but I would certainly not have gone public with it prior to reaching agreement with Stop & Shop’s management.

    I also don’t get how concentrating two large supermarkets on a congested road is going to make anything better. I’m thinking 47 extra parking spaces on Water Street sure will help.

  3. Where is the parking for this 30,500 sf building? are they allowed to include the town’s parking lot in their parking plan?
    I for one sure am looking forward to a new store, but I seldom shop there in the summer, unless I can walk from somewhere else.

    1. Vineyard Haven, Oak Bluffs, and Edgartown do not have sufficient parking and the Edgartown Stop & Shop is distant enough from the other shopping that traffic south of Peases Point Way is clearly unrelated.

      Stop & Shop is adding parking to ease this problem in Vineyard Haven. If the MVC is going to require Stop & Shop provide even more, they should require all businesses on Main and Water streets do the same.

  4. Honestly, some people must believe that making money is not the major goal of a business. Although S&S employs a good number of people at the VH site, the company certainly does not need Martha’s Vineyard. I would not be surprised if they sell off that site– if they can find a buyer. And btw, it would be insane for S&S to move in across the street from Cronigs. The center of town makes financial sense; the airport and State Road do not. That is the bottom line.

  5. Two things stand out. First, a policeman directing traffic at five-corners. This has been tried. It is always a disaster. Chief McCarthy was very clear on this point, and it is even more true now. The money would be better spent on an ambassador of goodwill at the door. Second, there must be a way to encourage bicycle shopping. If a person arrives on a bicycle, a person at the door, or by the honor system, could give that shopper a discount for the purchase. Cronig’s gives 10% to island card holders, how about bicycle-grocery-shopping discounts. If not that, then something to entice people to go about their business on their bicycles instead of using cars. What harm would it do to try?

    1. Yeah, right. Talk about taking your life in your hands riding a bike down in that location, especially in the summer.

      1. Are you serious, man about town? People do it all the time. When is the last time you got on a bicycle? In any case, there is a movement under foot involving millions of dollars to make bicycling safer and especially in the corridor leading to and from five-corners. The state, the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, the town of Tisbury, NSTAR are all involved. There will be better safety for cyclists throughout the island. There likely will be improved sidewalks on both sides of Beach Road, bike lanes, the removal of the telephone poles from the middle of the sidewalks on the north side which will either be moved or placed underground (this last option is very much resisted by NSTAR and the state though not impossible if enough people get involved), and expanded width of the roadway at least to its legal bounds and perhaps more in some areas with voluntary benevolent actions by certain land owners who have voiced an interest in doing so. If you think it’s dangerous, maybe you would like to get involved.

        1. I ride my bike EVERY DAY! Which is how I know how little people regard cyclists on the road. Most People arent paying attention as it is at 5 corners. Ive come inches away from being tagged on bike and on foot. Even on my best day, I wouldnt shop for groceries on my bike, especially in the summer.

    2. Cronigs gives 10% if you pay over $100 to get a special card. Stop & Shop gives pricing that is far less than 10% of Cronig’s pricing and it doesn’t cost anything extra.
      The problem with shopping on a bicycle is the weight and number of the items. Most bicyclists are not ready to carry 3+ bags of groceries especially if they contain heavier items like soda, milk, glass jars, etc.
      The nice thing, however, about having stores that are in or very close to town is people can walk to them and utilize bags or small carts to take their stuff home. When you move the stores out of those areas…people are almost forced to drive and that means more traffic.

      1. Good points. But there must be a way to increase shopping with bicycle and using cars less… More frequent trips? Living close by and walking the bike home?

        1. Some places have delivery services. You can go shop (or use phone/internet) and then have the items delivered.

  6. I honesty wish S&S would say F-You to MV. Then we can lesson to all these naysayers complain about a lack of grocery shopping. Jesus, they want to spend a large amount of money cleaning up that current eyesore of a building. Their plans are reasonable and fit with the character of the island. Let’s be honest the five corners area is never going to be easily accessible for traffic. Would all these whiners be happier if S&S left and then we had a vacant dilapidated builder there?????????????

    1. i believe some people actually would be. Junky properties seem to say “real Vineyard” to people who miss the good old days of anything goes, no zoning or building codes. Its mind boggling.

      1. I agree, I do like picture no.2 better than no.1 that looks like a shopping mall. Whats wrong with making it one level like the one in Edgartown..?

        1. The shopping area will now be at the Main Street elevation, the parking at the Water Street elevation.

          1. Thanks for clearing that up. In this economy where our govment subsidizes the market if S&S were to go under would vineyard Haven want to be stuck with this building. Nothing is stable until we return to a free market.

          2. We do not have a free market, our government (meaning the taxpayer) already subsidizes it, approved by Congress. And I wouldn’t worry about the Vineyard being stuck with this larger building as I think it more likely Ahold would walk away before beginning construction.

        2. The first level is 47 new parking spots so that the city lot is left available for all of the other stores and you can shop there in inclement weather without getting wet.

    2. If Stop & Shop left and wasn’t replaced with a comparably priced supermarket many people would be forced to leave the Island as well. Perhaps it’s time to wonder about who would want that to happen?

        1. No, gas you can work around fairly easily and let’s be honest many people here don’t have long commutes. One way to get your gas price down to close to off-island is to shop at Stop & Shop and use their gas points program. Generally, it saves us between .70 and .90 cents a gallon each month.

          1. So once a month it saves you maybe $20 on one fill up. But then you burn it all up waiting to drive to a S+S. Certainly if we ever move away from gas it will immediately be clear which place is the one to go to. Also if your time means anything to you at all….well that’s clear too.

          2. We only have to fill up on average of once a month. I don’t understand what you mean about burning up gas waiting to drive to a Stop & Shop? There’s one in Edgartown. There’s a gas station on the island that participates in the program. You go there, punch in a S&S number and the discount is applied.

          3. If you try to get into either Edgartown or downtown VH (especially at certain times of year) you will definitely be waiting a while burning up gas because of S+S (especially in Edg). But there’s just noooowhere else they could possssibbllly go!

          4. It’s really not that hard Summer or Winter. Sure, going on Sunday during season might not be the best time, but there’s still plenty of times where you can get in and out easily.
            A bigger store for Vineyard Haven will help the Stop & Shop by allowing them to have more goods on the shelves so they’re not constantly trying to restock.

          5. I think we have very different definitions of “easily”. Maybe if a person has no job to go to and just go whenever they want or something, but the idea it’s often easy (even in the offseason) to get a spot at the VH S+S is just not true. In the summer you will basically never get a spot and the new parking won’t change that.

      1. S&S isn’t going anywhere. (1) they have a another store in Edgartown and (2) they wouldn’t have invested as much as they have in VH (and as much as they will to build if they get approval) if it didn’t make financial sense for them. Companies this size do not make emotional decisions — they make decisions based on dollars and in the interests of their shareholders (as they should).

        They own the property and they have every right to propose anything they want as far as developing it. And, when they made their proposal they were obviously aware of the issues that could trip them up (e.g. town owned parking lot, five corners traffic, size of building, etc., etc.) Once their proposal was put forth it became subject to the approval process that exists on MV (like it or not). Unless they withdraw their plan, at some point a decision will be made to approve or deny the project.

        If it’s denied do you really think a company that has a tremendously profitable business is simply going to abandon ship and open up the opportunity to another chain to grab those profits? No chance — they will go back to the drawing board….

        1. I’m sure the Vineyard locations are profitable. The fact that Stop & Shop is investing as much as they are speaks to that. However, with any large business if a very small piece becomes too much of a distraction and requires too much in resources they’ll look to sell it.

          I’m sure the Whole Foods chain would be interested and would do well.

          S&S hasn’t mentioned anything like that however, but a year from now if they’re still stuck in the same place someone there might just give up and put a For Sale sign up.

        2. If an outside chain does not perform due diligence before buying the properties, they’ll quickly learn the lesson when they attempt the needed improvements. But I suspect most will ask why Ahold would abandon the Vineyard and do the research.

  7. In my opinion, it is unfortunate that Stop & Shop is not considering a move to State Rd.
    There are significant short and long term benefits.
    1. No disruption of Stop & Shop services
    Stop & Shop could continue to operate the existing store without the need to layoff their employees, during the construction of the new State Rd store.
    2. No downtown disruption caused by the proposed large scale project.
    One can only imagine the chaos that will occur as heavy trucks, crews of contractors compete with SSA traffic and local islanders trying to get through their day.
    3. Taking the Stop & Shop traffic out of the five corners mix would definitely improve the Five Corners snarl. For the first time there is an opportunity to actually do something tangible to improve Five Corners,
    4. A farm market smaller in scale, having a more local “Vineyard feel “, would be a much nicer welcome to island visitors as they drive off the boat.
    5. People of the Vineyard would be able to reclaim the parking lot to support all of the downtown shops.

    1. Taking Stop & Shop traffic out of five corners would have a negligible effect. Move the ferry dock to Beach Road if that’s your concern.
      Stop & Shop is putting in 47 additional parking spaces.
      Look at the traffic at five corners during the winter and check out State Rd. It’s always very busy there. Another busy store and we’re going to have people lined up trying to get out of parking lots and a lot of accidents.
      A farm market would charge prices that most year-round residents can’t afford. You know, like $5/gallon of milk and $6/dozen eggs (those are real prices from some nearby stores).

    2. I love the “State Rd.” option,…THERE IS NO STATE RD. OPTION!!! Sorry to raise my voice but there seems to be a few people sleeping. The State Rd. “swap” deal with Elio Silva is as realistic as the swap deal I came up with for myself and Ernie Bock, while I’m ready to move into his house Ernie doesn’t know I exist. Get real, Stop and Shop owns the property, they have sunk a ton of cash into the planning phase, if you think they would walk away from this location on a trade deal (like baseball cards) you may want to just go back to sleep, “Dreamy Land” is where you operate best. As for what YOU want to see when YOU get off the ferry,…I choose to examine what was/is there and what Stop and Shop is proposing, unlike Dreamy Land these are the options. I like new and clean with more parking as opposed to dirty, old, run down and deadly. ( The deadly part was aimed toward the old Chinese restaurant.) When you drive off the ferry keep both hands on the wheel, eyes on the road and scanning your mirrors, before you know it you’ll be muscling through 5 Corners and heading home,…unless you manage a house swap with someone in Dreamy Land.

  8. I would advise the Edgartown location and the VH location both close and combine into a Super Stop & Shop. Two locations on Edg/VH road and several spots on Edg/WTis rd available. The two locations no longer serve the island and further expansion/use will ensure traffic nightmares, continued poor produce selections and $9.00 a jar mayo prices etc…

    1. $9 mayo…I think you’re talking about the other “chain” grocery store on the Island.

  9. Nice to know that S+S thinks so little of the serious traffic problems we have. They’ve made getting into Edg a nightmare and VH needs to become an even bigger problem than it already is. Thanks S+S. I’ll go with Reliable and Cronigs. Local guys that live here and give a darn. This is about profit for S+S, pure and simple and I don’t owe them anything. In the mean time I see Reliable having some of the lowest prices despite being downtown and I see Cronigs putting up solar panels, partnering with local farmers, and hiring people will all sorts of abilities and disabilities and instead of saying “oooohhhhh…there’s just nooooo other location” they put one right in West Tis. This is just obvious to me.

    1. S+S doesn’t own the traffic problem, we do. Point the traffic problem finger at the SSA and the Town of Tisbury where it belongs. Why should S+S look for another location, they own a great one! It is about profit/business, as it is for Reliable and Cronigs.

      1. I totally agree it’s about profit …..and we don’t owe it to them. They knew what the location was when they got it. They knew the pros and cons of it. And now they own the location. But they don’t own our zoning laws….and Reliable and Cronigs are absolutely better neighbors and have probably managed to be profitable while doing it. In the mean time the SSA is far more vital to us than S+S. S+S couldn’t even exist here without it.

        1. I just frustrates me that we are on the verge of having a really nice (somewhat affordable) grocery store in town that wants to add parking spaces and we seem to be nickle and diming them.

          1. I see your point but I don’t want a new store if I can never get to it. And it’s not just that place that it’s impossible to get to now. It’s home. It’s downtown. It’s the post office. Etc etc. We already have backups that just completely stop there at 6:30 am, but instead of trying to help the problem they just say there’s no other option. I don’t believe that there’s no other option.

          2. We have a lot of the same problems other similar communities have, It’s no reason to scare away a nice new grocery store from downtown. Now I could see if they were just coming in and buying up land and building a new store but they are replacing a run down one and adding more parking. Having said that you could replace stop and shop with anything including leveling it and making it all parking and it would still be difficult to get around in downtown VH during those magic two months called summer. Like Nantucket and Newport and other busy vacation spots that have traffic patterns designed in the time of horse and buggies we are going to be doing some sitting and waiting, it’s one of the costs of living in paradise. When the VH SSA terminal was re-done that was the golden opportunity to effect traffic downtown

          3. I just don’t see horrid traffic as some sort of inevitability that we have to accept. In an area that you have horrid traffic (almost year round now) you don’t build bigger and add to the problem. You move away from it and give access to more people. One thing that also annoys me a bit is this idea that if you live up island you don’t even matter. You should always have to drive all the way to either Edgartown, VH, or OB. And then sit in traffic. I just don’t think it needs to be this way. On some level by your logic if a Wal Mart bought a bunch of the businesses on Main St they should be able to consolidate them and as long as they add some parking it’s ok. I just don’t see it that way. I can see why people might like this. I just don’t. I think it will make a bad situation worse. I am more concerned about safety, like traffic during a fire or medical emergency. I think that matters more.

  10. Too bad the town didn’t build the connector road. Then there would have been tons of space to put a large S+S and plenty of parking right in the heart of the town. Would have largely solved horrid traffic in two places, but 93 people didn’t agree. At any rate I don’t agree that S+S is or ever was any kind of life blood here.

  11. Isn’t a certain land owner in Tisbury, who also happens to own a competing business, the one who is really holding this up?