Edgartown will take a $2 million loss on sale of the Warren House

The Warren House at 62 North Water Street. — File photo by Steve Myrick

Edgartown selectmen voted Monday to accept an all-cash $2.5 million bid for the Captain Warren House from Chestnut Hill resident Jeffrey Wolk. A representative for Mr. Wolk said his client plans to restore the house, most recently an inn, as a private residence.

If all goes according to plan and the sale is concluded next month, it would relieve the town of a nine-year financial burden, but at a steep price.

The town bought the house for $3.5 million in 2004. In addition to the loss of $1 million on the sale, the town has paid close to $2.5 million in principal and interest payments since the purchase, according to town treasurer Pam Amaral.

Mr. Wolk’s bid was one of two the Edgartown selectmen received last week that met their $2.5 million reserve for the deteriorating structure at 62 North Water Street.

Wayne Grigull and Janet Hiebert together and Mr. Wolk for himself offered the minimum. A third bid came from Matt Dyoff for $1.5 million. The sale of the house is governed by state law regulating the disposal of surplus property.

After consulting with town counsel Ron Rappaport, the selectmen voted unanimously to accept the bid from Mr. Wolk. Mr. Rappaport described the Wolk offer as “a good, clean bid.”

Selectmen rejected the Grigull/Hiebert bid because a property map submitted with the offer included a part of the sidewalk, which is owned by the town.

At a 2004 special town meeting, voters approved the purchase of the historic home for $3.5 million, as part of a plan to expand the Edgartown Library, which abuts the property. In January of the same year, the town issued $3.5 million in bonds to fund the purchase. But, within a year it became apparent that the structural condition of the building did not suit the planned library, and expansion on that site was eventually scrapped.

In addition to remaining unused and unmaintained since 2004, the Warren House, a withering ugly duckling in a row of otherwise pristine New England style houses along North Water Street in Edgartown, has declined in value.

Since 2004, town officials have proposed several alternative uses for the building, including affordable housing or historic preservation, but no agency has been willing to take on the expensive project.

Right project

“I’m really glad that we have one successful bidder,” selectman Arthur Smadback said of Mr. Wolk’s bid. “I’m really glad that the strategy of bringing the brokerage community into the process has been successful, because we have a successful bid, I think, in part because we did that.”

The terms of the request for proposals (RFPs) required that a deposit of $10,000 be paid within three days of the bid acceptance. As of Wednesday afternoon, James Joyce, a broker with Carroll and Vincent Real Estate in Edgartown who is representing Mr. Wolk, said his client had issued a bank check to the town to cover the deposit. The closing must take place within 30 days and no further negotiation is permitted. The town will pay a $75,000 brokerage fee.

Mr. Joyce, who appeared at the Monday meeting on Mr. Wolk’s behalf, said his client has been looking for the right project for several years now, and that he plans to rebuild the house for his wife and family.

“This is the project that caught his eye,” Mr. Joyce told The Times Tuesday. “He wants to restore this back to when it was a captain’s home and really bring the beauty back to North Water Street.”

With very little discussion or debate, selectmen were unanimous in their decision to accept the Wolk bid.

“I would support that we sell this,” selectman Margaret Serpa said Monday. “Even with the fact that we’re paying the broker’s fee, it was considered when we set the minimum price. We’re going to come clean on something that never should have been what it is to begin with, but it is, and we’re going to come out of this paying off our bond and moving on.”

In other bid business Monday, selectmen approved a bid to repair the exterior of the town hall. The single bid, made by Paul J. Roland Company Inc. for $540,000, has been taken under advisement. An award could be made next week, town administrator Pamela Dolby said.