Phillips Hardware renovation plan inches forward

Plans to use the Reliable Market parking lot for staging the construction project have changed.

The current store would be replaced with a three-story mixed-use building on the present Circuit Avenue site.

Chuck Sullivan, architect of record for the Phillips Hardware store renovation, attended Tuesday’s Oak Bluffs selectmen’s meeting to update the board on progress that’s been made, and to lay the foundation for future requests. “We’ve already gone before the Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC), and I’m here to make sure you’re OK with the general concept,” he said to a receptive board. “I’ll be coming back to you at least a dozen times.”

Mr. Sullivan’s clients, Donna Leon and Susan Phillips, co-owners of Phillips Hardware, plan to demolish the existing 8,500-square-foot building and replace it with a three-story, 18,000-square feet, mixed-use building, with “top-of-the-shop” apartments.

At the Sept. 22 MVC public hearing, Mr. Sullivan said Reliable Market owner Robert Pacheco was “in general agreement” about using a section of the Reliable Market parking lot as a staging area during demolition and construction.

However, on Sept. 29, attorney Luke DeBettencourt informed MVC executive director Adam Turner that his client, Mr. Pacheco, is not at all in agreement. “My client has asked me to inform you that use of the parking lot for anything related to the proposed building project by the Phillipses for the demolition, excavation, and reconstruction, is not feasible … [Mr. Sullivan] incorrectly stated that ‘they are in general agreement. It’s just working out some of the details and some of the dates.’ This in fact is not the case.”

Tuesday night, Mr. Sullivan told selectmen he was still hopeful an arrangement with Mr. Pacheco could be worked out by the time demolition begins, around this time next year. But failing that, Mr. Sullivan told selectmen, Circuit Avenue would be the only option for staging: “We wanted to come to you before we went back to the [MVC] to make sure you’re on board with the concept.” Mr. Sullivan said demolition and foundation work would take approximately six weeks, which would require fencing off nine parking spaces in front of Phillips Hardware. Eventually the existing sidewalk would become a covered walkway, topped by plywood and screening, and would remain that way until the beginning of May.

“The goal is to get the building weathertight from the outside,” Mr. Sullivan said. “We’d stop for the summer, get the retail space open, and the following winter, complete the second and third floors and the apartments.”
“I think it’s a fabulous plan, and I applaud you,” selectman Walter Vail said. Selectman Michael Santoro also endorsed the plan, and noted several other construction projects that have been staged on Circuit Avenue. “I think it’s a great step in the revitalization of Circuit Avenue,” he said.

“We’re trying to do the right thing,” Phillips Hardware co-owner Donna Leon told the board. “We’re trying to help the town with the housing issue and we’re trying to get our building to look better.”