IHT breaks ground for Water Street affordable housing project

From left: MVC director Adam Turner, executive director of Dukes County Regional Housing Authority David Vigneault, Tisbury affordable housing committee member Abbe Burt, Tisbury selectmen Tristan Isreal, Island Housing Trust (IHT) chairman Richard Leonard, Tisbury community preservation committee chairman Paul Munafo, contractor Farley Pedler, and IHT executive director Philippe Jordi break ground Wednesday. — Photo by Sam Moore

At noon Wednesday, Tisbury and Island officials and representatives of the Island Housing Trust (IHT) broke ground on a project to construct an apartment building with six affordable housing units on Water Street in Tisbury adjacent to the Stop and Shop Market.

Richard Leonard, IHT chairman, opened the informal ceremony by thanking everyone who had contributed financially and logistically to the project, which still has $137,000 left in its fundraising campaign.

“It’s amazing to know this is happening in such a visible location,” he said.

Philippe Jordi, IHT executive director, told the assemblage that the groundbreaking represented the future. “This represents for us a groundbreaking, but also a celebration of things to come,” Mr. Jordi said.

The apartment building will be used to house members of the Island’s workforce, as well as elders on a fixed income, he said. He praised the project’s proximity to both public transportation and downtown amenities.

“We hope these apartments start a new beginning for this part of Vineyard Haven,” he said.

Selectman Tristan Israel spoke about his experience in learning to understand the need for affordable housing on the Vineyard. “In my short time on Planet Earth, I don’t know a lot, but I do know that we are here to help each other,” Mr. Israel said.

The IHT began planning the Water Street project after it received a donation of the house and property, sandwiched between a car-rental service and Stop and Shop, in 2012 from Cronig’s Market owner Steve Bernier. An incorporated deed restricted all or part of its use to affordable housing.

A design competition was held during the summer of 2013, with the goal of designing a building that would provide affordable in-town rental housing, and serve lower-income residents with critical housing needs. Following consultations with town residents and boards, the IHT selected the design of Terrain Architects of Vineyard Haven for the project.

Farley Pedler, of Farley Built Inc. of West Tisbury, was hired as general contractor through a public bidding process for the $1,342,300 construction project.

The building will come in premade modular pieces in March, and the goal is to complete construction by June 15. Once constructed, the Dukes County Regional Housing Authority will provide rental and property management services. Mr. Pedler told The Times he’d like to see tenants move in by July 1.