Water Street Housing units take shape

The first floor was placed on Friday but weather delays pushed the project back. The remaining modules are expected to be placed on Thursday.


Updated Monday, March 28, 10:30 am

A new six-unit affordable apartment complex began to shape Friday at 6 Water Street, adjacent to the Stop & Shop and just a stone’s throw from the Five Corners intersection. 

In a series of well choreographed moves, one by one, modular units arrived by flatbed truck and were hoisted into place. Just before noon, with two modules in place and a third on the way, contractor Farley Pedler told The Times the project had been thought out beforehand and it was proceeding smoothly.

However, a short time later, rain and high winds shut down the operation. New England Homes project manager Joe Martin told The Times on Monday morning that the project will be completed on Thursday, March 31. “As long as the weather holds up, we can definitely finish in one day,” he said.

The six-unit apartment building will be composed of eight modular “boxes,” four of them 12.5 feet wide and 55 feet long, and four that are 12.5 feet wide and 30 feet long. Plans call for six 600-square-foot apartments, three handicapped accessible ground floor units and three on the second floor, each with one bedroom and one bathroom.

Mr. Pedler said he expects the project will take about three months to bring to a finished state.

Long process

In 2014, the Island Housing Trust project was referred to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission for review by Tisbury building and zoning inspector Ken Barwick based on the commission’s DRI checklist. The project did not trigger review as a residential development because it has less than 10 units, but because of another DRI trigger regarding development that increases a property’s “intensity in use.” At the recommendation of the MVC’s land use planning committee, the full commission voted on June 19, 2014 that the project required a public hearing. The MVC voted unanimously on July 17, 2014 in favor of the project.

The Tisbury zoning board of appeals (ZBA) unanimously approved the project in October 2014.

The initial design proposal included no onsite parking, other than a temporary parking spot for deliveries, pickups, and drop-offs. After an almost two-hour discussion, the ZBA agreed to require two additional parking spaces, and require that IHT ensure parking be available for every apartment unit off-site, whether at the Park and Ride lot or downtown.

In addition, the ZBA required IHT to incorporate noise and vibration mitigation measures such as triple-paned windows; design a minimum of one unit according to universal design principles to enhance accessibility; prohibit delivery of modular construction materials between Memorial Day and Labor Day; and submit a landscaping plan to the board for approval.

The apartment complex is being erected on the site where a crumbling house stood for years. In 2012, Cronig’s Market owner Steve Bernier purchased the house and land at 6 Water Street for $700,000. Mr. Bernier said he bought the property to thwart plans announced in the spring of 2011 by Stop & Shop Supermarket Company to expand its Vineyard Haven store.

In May 2012 he donated the property to IHT, with a deed restricting all or part of its use to affordable housing. The deed also contains a restriction against using the property for anything related to the supermarket business or for any business that would compete with Cronig’s Market.

IHT gratefully accepted Mr. Bernier’s gift, which turned out to be a mixed blessing in face of the challenges posed by the property’s location. The building’s design stemmed from a unique process that involved the Island community. IHT put out a request for design proposals in March 2013 and narrowed the applicants down to three, architects James Weisman of Terrain Associates in Vineyard Haven and Dudley Cannada of Edgartown, and a building/design team led by Farley Pedler, owner of Farley Built, Inc., in West Tisbury.

After consultation with Tisbury’s Planning Board, Historic Commission, and Affordable Housing Committee, and review of public comments, IHT selected Mr. Weisman’s design.