Edgartown selectmen mull $1 million Warren House bid

Edgartown wants to unload the decaying Captain Warren House on North Water Street, bought by the town in 2004. — Photo by Steve Myrick

Edgartown selectmen had a look Monday at a two-part bid for the decaying town-owned Captain Warren House. Maggie White, a businesswoman in town, offered two possible options, one a straight cash deal and the other a partnership with the town.

Ms. White, owner of the Hob Knob Inn on Main Street, as well as a construction company, and Nancy Kramer and Christopher Celeste, a seasonal Edgartown couple, submitted the two proposals as part of one bid.

One option is payment of $1 million with a 40 percent profit-share to be paid to Edgartown by spring 2015. The other is an all-cash bid in the amount of $1.25 million.

The selectmen had little comment. They said town administrator Pam Dolby would present an analysis of the bid and its parts at next week’s meeting.

The town bought the historic structure at 62 North Water Street for $3.5 million in 2004, 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 suitable for a library. The library expansion on that site was eventually scrapped. The Warren House has been vacant and deteriorating for nine years.

“This is a very unusual situation, because we’re selling town property,” selectman Arthur Smadbeck said in a phone conversation Tuesday. “In this particular case, the town borrowed a certain amount of money to put toward a property, and I can’t remember the last time that’s happened.”

Mr. Smadbeck, a real estate agent as well as a selectman, said the White proposal is the first bid the town has received. “Once we know what can be done with it, we can start making some business decisions,” he said.

Ms. White, a resident since 1995, owns Hob Knob Construction. She just completed work on the Captain Ellsworth House, at 52 South Summer Street, now for sale.

“We’re very hopeful that the town will work with us on this project,” she said in a telephone conversation Tuesday. She said her plan is to use historic elements of the property to create an authentic “village-like compound.”

South at Eleven North

In other building news, the owners of the Eleven North Restaurant returned to selectmen with a letter from the Cape Organization for Rights of The Disabled (CORD), urging them to approve plans to install a required handicap access ramp.

Selectmen earlier said the issue was not the ramp but the fact that it would land on town property.

Last month, Edgartown selectmen gave the owners until September to provide access to the restaurant for people with disabilities. The decision on whether the restaurant can continue operating rests with the Massachusetts Architectural Access Board.

The restaurant is open under a temporary occupancy permit and has missed a deadline set by the Architectural Access Board for compliance with state disability regulations.

Chip Williams, one of three Eleven North owners, gave selectmen a letter from CORD assistant director Cathy Taylor, who wrote “mistakes were made, but people with disabilities should not have to pay the penalties for these mistakes by being denied access to the restaurant.”

Mr. Williams followed up on the Taylor letter by telling selectmen he thought there is no issue.

“I think the issue is the use of town property,” selectman chairman Margaret Serpa said. “There is an issue.”

“I don’t think this board’s ready to say yes, but it’s not ready to say no,” said selectman Michael Donaroma.” “But we’ve already sort of decided to give you guys until September to come up with a plan, and you just came back with the same plan to say that you legally can do it. Well let me assure you, we legally can say no,” Mr. Donaroma said.

In the meantime, Eleven North will continue to do business under a temporary occupancy permit.

“Think about this plan and maybe come up with a better plan in the meantime,” Mr. Donaroma said.

“You’re trying to make this our problem. This is your problem,” said Ms. Serpa.

And finally, in other news, fireworks will light up the sky over Fuller Street beach at 9 pm on Friday, June 14. Selectmen approved a fireworks permit for a 190-person rehearsal dinner to be held there, hosted by the Lobianco family.