For Sale sign scars Bradley Square plan
Nearing the end of an arduous, uncertain permitting and regulatory process, and facing the possibility of a resource-draining legal battle, a group of Island housing advocates this week put a for sale sign on the Bradley Square project in Oak Bluffs.
Representatives of the Island Housing Trust and the Island Affordable Housing Fund said in a written statement that a campaign of harassment and intimidation threatens the financial viability of the ambitious affordable housing development.
The project, planned for the corner of Dukes County and Masonic avenues, includes an 11-unit housing development, a community center, and preserves the Island's first African-American church.
The project has been the subject of a bitter and protracted battle during the permitting process. Opponents argue that the project is too big and will generate traffic and parking problems. They have taken their battle to the Internet, local newspapers, and the zoning board of appeals.
The housing group announced its decision Tuesday to place the property for sale just two days before the Oak Bluffs zoning board of appeals (ZBA) is scheduled to meet in a reopened hearing on the plan this evening. A ZBA decision is possible, but not assured, at that meeting. The land cost to Island Affordable Housing Trust was $905,000 in 2007. The asking price now is $1.5 million, an indication, one spokesman for the developers explained, of the way the costs of the project have escalated. The project's backers say they hope to recover costs already incurred, including interest payments on the property mortgage, costs associated with the regulatory process, and hundreds of hours of work by staffers.
The Martha's Vineyard Commission approved the Bradley Square Project on June 19, by a vote of 13-1. The ZBA is the last regulatory hurdle. In August, the ZBA closed the public hearing but agreed to reopen the hearing tonight, at 7 pm, at the Oak Bluffs council on Aging on Wamsutta Street.
The decision to put the Bradley Square property on the market followed a meeting Monday evening among Island Affordable Housing Fund, Island Housing Trust, Habitat for Humanity of Martha's Vineyard, and other supporters.