Loft apartments proposed in Edgartown

Charles Hajjar, of Haven Road Realty Trust, is proposing to construct ten apartments in the existing second floor attic space in Post Office Square.
Photo by Michelle Gross

Charles Hajjar, of Haven Road Realty Trust, is proposing to construct ten apartments in the existing second floor attic space in Post Office Square.

Charles Hajjar, a Boston-based realtor operating under the name Haven Road Realty Trust, proposes to construct 10 market rate apartments in the existing second floor attic space of the Four Flags Condominium complex, also referred to as Post Office Square, at the Triangle, where traffic from Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven merge to enter downtown Edgartown.

The project is now before the Martha’s Vineyard Commission as a development of regional impact (DRI). Although the Edgartown planning board forwarded the project to the MVC, based on the criteria in the DRI checklist, board members said the town is more than capable of reviewing the project and asked the Island’s regional planning and permitting body not to labor over the details.

Mr. Hajjar proposes to construct one three-bedroom apartment, eight two-bedroom apartments, and one one-bedroom apartment, for a total of 20 bedrooms. The plan also includes a reconfigured parking lot that will add 16 parking spots, plus the addition of an external set of stairs. The business complex, classified as a BII business district on Upper Main Street, abuts the residential Dark Woods neighborhood and the Edgartown Park & Ride lot.

The apartments are intended to be year-round rentals, said Sean Murphy, an Edgartown lawyer who represents Mr. Hajjar.

“This project is to create affordable, year-round rentals,” Mr. Murphy said. “The market, we believe, is for the year-round work force needing housing, early retirees, or someone who may want to sell their house and downsize.”

Mr. Murphy said the apartments will sell furnished.

“If you read the Island plan, if you read the housing assessment plan, these apartments are exactly where they’re supposed to be,” Mr. Murphy said. “One of the reasons this site was chosen for year-round apartments is because it’s located directly on the bus line. It’s very accessible. They anticipate people who can walk to the post office, walk to the bank, the supermarket is across the street, so you don’t have to drive anywhere.”

Edgartown can do it

Under the DRI checklist, the planning board was required to forward the project to the MVC based on the creation of “10 or more dwellings,” and its previous designation as a DRI.

In a letter to the MVC dated June 24, 2013, Edgartown planning board chairman Robert Sparks said that the planning board voted to refer the project per the checklist with a strong recommendation of support.

Mr. Sparks, citing a traffic study completed for another project in 2011,  asked the MVC to waive the requirement of a traffic study and attach any conditions for approval in the form recommendations to the planning board.

“The planning board believes the project can be thoroughly reviewed under the Edgartown bylaw for BII Upper Main Street Business District. The project shall also be reviewed by the wastewater department, police and fire departments, as well as the highway department. All these boards are very capable of recommending conditions necessary to preserve and protect their respective jurisdictions.”

In a followup email to The Times Wednesday, in response to a question that asked if the planning board believes that the Edgartown lofts project necessitates MVC review, planning board member Georgiana Greenough said, “Yes, the board feels the project should be reviewed by the MVC, but [it] hoped the commission would not labor over details that the local boards can handle, given the town adopted in 1989 a detailed Upper Main Street Masterplan, which was used to develop the B-II Upper Main Street Business District zoning bylaw.”

In years past, Edgartown officials have been unsparing in their criticism of the MVC and the agency’s proposed revisions to its development of regional impact (DRI) checklist.

The right tenants

At a meeting of the MVC’s land use planning committee (LUPC) on March 17, project architect Charlie Orlando presented commissioners with draft elevations for the project. The height of the structure will remain the same, and the apartments will be separated by “dormers” or wall separators, Mr. Orlando said. The proposal also includes planting ten 14-foot trees to mask two new exterior sets of stairs.

LUPC chairman Linda Sibley of West Tisbury noted that the applicant is an experienced  off-Island developer. She asked how Mr. Hajjar will prevent renting the units to wealthy seasonal tenants who will use the space seasonally as opposed to year-round.

Commissioner Joan Malkin of Chilmark said she wanted to hear more about the screening process Mr. Hajjar plans to use to find prospective tenants.

LUPC agreed the project is ready to go public hearing, which is scheduled for Thursday, April 3.

There are a total of 16 units in the Post Office Square complex. Edgartown Meat & Fish and Granite Hardware own two of the buildings. On December 31, Four Flags LLC sold 236 and 238 Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road to Charles Hajjar and Paul R. Mahoney, a trustee of Haven Road Realty Trust, for $3 million.

Under its enabling legislation, the MVC has wide authority to regulate developments of regional impact, by imposing conditions that cover density, traffic impact, environmental impact, and other factors above and beyond those that may be imposed at the local level.

Depending on the level of review and conditions imposed, the MVC process can be time-consuming and expensive. Once the MVC approves a development proposal, the project returns to local town boards for further review before a development permit is issued.



Comments

  1. KenEsq says:

    I hope there’s a limitation on the minimum rental period/sublease so these apartments don’t become expensive hotel rooms through services like airbnb, etc.

  2. tiskid says:

    The idea that people will willingly give up car ownership because they are on a bus line is laughably naive. Also if it’s market rate, he probably shouldn’t use the word “affordable”.

    1. Sara Piazza says:

      I’m not giving up ownership of my car anytime soon, but I can tell you, living in town, I can go days without using it.

    2. Tom Hammond says:

      “affordable”. Like ACA Obama-care?

  3. Laurence Vaughn says:

    As soon as the article said that the units were “intended to be affordable year round housing” but at market rate as well as furnished, as one would do for seasonal rentals, that to me was a really huge red flag. People downsizing and long term island renters own furniture and other personal property. Why furnish them? It all seems a rouse to me. If this is to be affordable, like Morgan Woods, get the VHO involved. Unless there is a binding agreement on rent control, this should just be denied. Have Mr. Hajjar’s approval of the project to be dependent if the “affordable market rates” are actually affordable and if there is no subletting or part-year leasing.

    1. anodyne99 says:

      You are not very experienced in renting apartments sir. Year round renters do want the apartments furnished, and the better the quality of the furnishings the better the quality of the tenants. And as far as renting to wealthy summer renters — that is such an absurd idea. First of all, wealthy seasonal renters want waterfront, or water view, or farm view, or farm or something nice. This location would not rent very easily to anyone seasonally. And finally, it is a lot of work renting seasonally. And the profit from it is not as much as renting year round including affordable year round. It appears that the developers have considered all of their options and are not trying to deceive anyone. This is a good project in a good place. And no, I have no connection to anyone or thing concerning this. I just wanted to give you some information you may not have been aware of. It would be hoped however, that the apartments are ‘green’ and that the MVC can focus on this aspect. Something they have never considered up to this point and the single most important thing about any new project.

      1. Alex says:

        the article said there would be a selection process that would not allow people to rent seasonally.

        1. Laurence Vaughn says:

          Who administers the selection process?

      2. KenEsq says:

        I disagree. There are homes where I live that don’t have water views, are around 1,500 sq/ft and are really nothing special that will rent for $5,000/wk+ this season. Yes, they’re probably nicer than those apartments, but also not within walking distance of town. Those same houses if rented year-round would maybe bring in $2,000/month. Even the very low end of the seasonal market in Edgartown is going to bring in $1,500- $2,000/wk.
        Seasonal rentals are much, much more profitable, and also very easy to do. Realtors or sites like MVOL, airbnb that focus on them.

      3. Laurence Vaughn says:

        I am a year round renter and have been one here since 2001 so I do know what I’m talking about. What Mr. Hajjar explained is the definition of a seasonal rental. It’s not the best location view wise but is on 3 good summer bus routes. You can get to VH, downtown Edgartown, or Oak Bluffs and State Beach via nearby bus stops.

        And as I said before, I’m a renter. What makes your abode your home is your personal stuff. The chair that fits you just right. Your own bed. The dresser that grandmom gave you. They matter. Those are the things that make your place “home”.

        As to the whole “Green” building thing. Get over it! If you do not have a ton of money you cannot afford to be “green” There are so many old and 3 season homes that are being rented as year round homes so “green” is now a term for the idealistic and wealthy, not the working class. The expense of building a “green” home at small square footage can add such an expense that over time it is more affordable not to.

        Have Mr. Hajjar put his money where his mouth is if he’s being truthful. Rent the units through the VHO.

        1. georgemv says:

          Having been a landlord for just short of three decades I just see no sense in providing furniture. Having done four evictions observing the way people leave things your overhead cost will never be off set by a security deposit. I like the idea and the location but the logistics need more insight to the real market for year round residents. I have no idea how anyone could consistently get a good nights sleep at that location in the summer.

  4. b4b4jaws says:

    Your photo is dated….after today ( the Blizzard ) the sign is no longer upright…

  5. Thomas Hodgson says:

    From Jane Jacobs: Criteria that many “planners” have forgotten.

    “1. The district, and indeed as many of its internal parts as possible, must serve more than one primary function; preferably more than two. These must insure the presence of people who go outdoors on different schedules and are in the place for different purposes, but who are able to use many facilities in common.

    “2. Most blocks must be short; that is, streets and opportunities to turn corners must be frequent.

    “3. The district must mingle buildings that vary in age and condition, including a good proportion of old ones so that they vary in the economic yield they must produce. This mingling must be fairly close-grained.

    “4. There must be a sufficiently dense concentration of people, for whatever purpose they maybe there. This includes dense concentration in the case of people who are there because of residence.

  6. Ouch Man says:

    While they are at it maybe they could also build a waiting room at the post office window with benches and a TV to pass the wait times.

  7. goodrogering says:

    Isn’t that place congested enough. 20,000 cars go through the triangle every day in the summer

  8. MV regular says:

    Why is anyone telling this man who he can rent to?!!

  9. Caroline Miller says:

    LOL
    “affordable like Morgan Woods…” Yeah, right.
    I would love to hear of someone seriously tackling the year-round housing CRISIS on MV. I have attended a few meetings to address this issue and “market rate” housing is not the solution for people who live and work here full-time. If you peruse the classifieds you will see NO yr listings and when there were some, the prices were ridiculous ($2000+/month ).If you are like me and find a reasonable winter rental, your options are $6500-15,000 for the summer season. Even working 3 jobs doesn’t make this affordable. So when someone is ready to SERIOUSLY talk about the real issue of affordable housing on MV, I will be all ears.

  10. anodyne99 says:

    I believe there are some fundamental
    misunderstandings about green building. It appears that many people
    believe it is only for the wealthy. But that is not the case and I
    will outline a few basic ideas that people can pick apart and analyze
    if they like.

    Ikea is offering a pop-up green house
    kit for under $300 a sq meter. As far as I know a home on the
    Vineyard generally costs over $300 a sq ft. That is a big difference.

    There are several ways to build a green
    building. One is LEEDS another is Passive House Institute, another is
    straw bales. There are pluses and minuses to any of them. There are
    others, but these have been analyzed and compared against each other.

    Clearly straw bale is the least
    expensive and the most energy efficient as well as the most
    re-cyclable materials of the three. The efficiencies are in some
    cases 450% better than the other methods.

    Any of the types of green buildings
    that can be built by the home-owner can be designed by the owner and
    engineered by the firm that does the construction. This meets code,
    exceeds it, and is far less expensive than an architect designed
    home. If a SIPS building or other type the owner can act as the
    contractor and save up to another 15% in contractor commissions on
    all of the plumbing etc. This is permitted by building code
    regulations. Some contractors charge much less.

    Any green building can be built in
    stages with some things delayed as money is earned. This does not
    mean you can not live in them while you do this, but some amenities
    might be deferred. Savings of up to 50% of the final cost of the
    green building can be achieved this way in comparison to a similarly
    built conventional structure. And so, it can be far less expensive to
    build, to own, to maintain, and to provide the energy for. In
    addition it can be stronger, and far more comfortable to live in and
    have no VOCs. And, it is affordable housing if approached in this
    way.

    That’s for starters. Any criticism is
    welcome.