Edgartown selectmen review plan to sell Warren House

Edgartown will move to sell the Warren House. — Photo by Nis Kildegaard

Edgartown selectmen got their first look at a plan to sell the Captain Warren House at their Monday meeting, in the form of a draft request for proposals (RFP).

The draft, which has not yet been approved by selectmen and could change, calls for a strict bidding process that would yield a buyer by November 26.

The town purchased the historic structure at 62 North Water Street for $3.5 million. The purchase was submitted by petition to a 2004 special town meeting, and overwhelmingly approved by voters, as part of a plan to expand the Edgartown Library, which abuts the Warren House property.

Within a year, however, it was apparent that the structural condition of the building was not suited for a library. The library expansion on that site was eventually scrapped, and the town now plans to build a new library at the site of the old Edgartown School.

The Warren House has been vacant and deteriorating for eight years, and town officials expect to take a loss on the property.

Sale of the historic home will be governed by state law regulating the disposal of surplus property. The draft RFP prepared by town counsel, outlines a detailed process for putting the building up for bid, and choosing a buyer.

The draft calls for bidders to submit a $10,000 deposit with their bid, and a $240,000 deposit if they are selected as the buyer from all bids received.

The town must advertise the sale in a local newspaper and in the central registry, a state database of government property and projects available for public bid, giving everyone a fair chance to purchase the property.

Selectmen must accept the highest qualified bidder, but they will reserve the right to reject all bids if it is in the interest of the town.

Selectmen and the town’s building inspector plan to tour the building to make sure it is safe for prospective buyers. The town plans three separate open house events to give buyers a look at the building.

Over the years, town officials proposed a number of alternative uses for the building, including affordable housing or historic preservation, but no agency was willing to take on the expensive project.

In other action at their Monday meeting, selectmen approved a request from a location manager to shoot exterior scenes for an as yet unnamed movie project produced by Chilmark seasonal resident and “Seinfeld” creator Larry David.

On September 22, the production crew plans to shoot scenes on North Water Street, on the Chappaquiddick ferry, and on Kelly Street in Edgartown. Selectmen approved a request to block off four parking spaces in the Kelly street municipal lot to accommodate the film crew on that day.

“I have no problem at all, I think it’s terrific,” selectman Art Smadbeck said.

Though set on the Island, the production company plans to shoot the rest of the movie on the North Shore of Massachusetts.

Also Monday, selectmen voted to send a letter of support to state officials considering funding for a connector road project in Tisbury. The connector road would bypass the intersection of Edgartown – Vineyard Haven Road and State Road, relieving summer traffic snarls at the busy intersection.