Vineyard Haven properties listed for $8 million

Benjamin says he’s still working on pulling together investors to buy it.

Nat Benjamin, a partner in Gannon & Benjamin, says he is still working toward purchasing the DeSorcy land in Vineyard Haven with private investors now that the land is on the open market.

A collection of Vineyard Haven properties is now on the open market for $8 million, despite an attempt by a group of investors led by Nat Benjamin of Gannon & Benjamin to keep it from going up for grabs.

Benjamin is undeterred by the listing. “We’re moving forward with our plans, and we’ll be making an offer very soon,” he told The Times Monday.

The listing, which is held by Cronig’s Real Estate, describes the property, which is owned by the DeSorcy family, as a “once in a lifetime opportunity to own a large portion of Vineyard Haven waterfront.”

The four properties house several businesses, including The Martha’s Vineyard Times and Gannon & Benjamin Railway Co. There is also a vacant paint store, several galleries, and some residential space on the property, which is valued by the town at $4.5 million.

Benjamin, who has been attempting to rally private investors, and won the support of having the Permanent Endowment of Martha’s Vineyard act as a fiscal sponsor, said it is a concern that the property went on the market, but he remains confident he can gather enough support to buy it.

“Sure it concerns us, but we’re just going through our process as best we can,” Benjamin said.

Peter Cronig of Cronig’s Real Estate did not immediately return a message about the listing.

Reached by phone Monday, Leo DeSorcy said, “No comment.”

Having expressed interest in the property in the past, Benjamin was given an unspecified window of time to raise the capital to purchase the property. “The family gave us a reasonable amount of time. There was no specific amount of weeks,” he said.

Benjamin said he was given a heads-up that the property was being listed publicly.

In a previous interview, Benjamin said his hope in seeking investors to purchase the property is to preserve the property for use for maritime businesses such as the one he operates. “Our main interest is to preserve this working waterfront — what we do here with building and restoring wooden boats,” Benjamin said in that interview.

A buyer will have to be willing to purchase all four of the properties, which total 1.18 acres and have seven buildings, according to the listing. “Properties will not be sold individually, and are being sold ‘as is,’” the listing states.

Within 100 feet of the shore, town zoning restricts the use of the property to water-dependent businesses.

Town leaders have expressed excitement about the prospects of new ownership for the land, and what that could mean for redevelopment of the property.


  1. This is not likely to end well. The fundamental problem is that business like Gannon & Benjamin is no longer the “highest and best use” of the waterfront. Can you say, “condominiums”? In the last 25 years I have watched it happen in harbor after harbor up and down the eastern seaboard. Tisbury can attempt to stop it by zoning and statute, and may even wrangle some concessions (read: bones) from the developers, but the harbor front will be forever changed, and not for the good of the island. I don’t like to say it, but eminent domain should get into the conversation right away.

    • See the picture the MV Times used for this piece? Two boats; a cabined sloop and a no less graceful dinghy, whether sailed or rowed. If vessels built for the sea haven’t a safe home during off-season or after damaging storms, you have lost what Vineyard Haven is: a haven.

      “Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing… about in boats — or with boats. In or out of ’em, it doesn’t matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that’s the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don’t; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you’re always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you’ve done it there’s always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you’d much better not.” ~ The Rat

      Water-dependent business, period.

      • I share your sentiments, but posturing and polemics will not yield the desired result. Money talks – even (especially) here on Leftist Island. A condo complex with available docks and perhaps a small ship’s store will satisfy the water-dependent business thingy. Better to pony up first than spend years and many $$$ in fruitless litigation.

        • Say someone develops new residential or retail there. I’d expect insurance would require elevated structures. Imagine how horrible that would look, from land or sea.

  2. It’s a shame that we have a gorgeous piece of property that has looked like a mess for years. It does not mean you can’t have a water dependent business with something clean and orderly there. Frankly, we just don’t have that now. You have a cruise ship that docks yet there’s no sidewalk for them to walk to town (past these properties) and then you have a hotel there but you can’t wait on a sidewalk with luggage without going into the street. There are buildings with inadequate parking, something that will have to change, there is rot and decay of which some looks New Englandish to some and then there is outright crap strewn around properties.

    What I guarantee you will change is that whoever spends or lends 8 million for this property will want a revenue stream and you just can’t make the numbers work with what’s there.

  3. Everyone may hate this, envision how profit generating development would appear.

    Residential: Condos or hotel would be a blob from the water side and like walking across a neighbor’s yard on land under the gaze of 2nd floor windows. Will resident expect private marina space? How would that affect harbor management?

    Retail: What happens to occupancy on Main Street? Where do trucks park to transfer merchandise? What is between the stores and the harbor? Not parking. Where do shoppers park?

    Restaurants: Possibly the best use, dining decks overlooking harbor. But again, parking? And does Vineyard Haven need that many more eateries?

  4. I made my first trip south on the intra coastal waterway in 1995, and my most recent in 2012. I have seen the “before” and the “after”. Trust me, the smart play is this: take the land by eminent domain, create a municipal (cash generating) marina, and sublet to Gannon and Benjamin, and others with waterfront business services. You will be so happy if you do.

  5. Keep your working waterfront at any cost. Clean it up and make it a class act. Create a maritime
    environment for the next generation. Once you loose this chance you will never get it back

  6. Time to make VH great again! Change zoning and bring in restaurants, shops and housing. Right now it’s a dump.

  7. That waterfront area does look like an absolute dump. Where are the ideas? Where is the leadership from our elected officials on this? It would be a disaster to have it continue on as it is. A complete eyesore that people only view on their way out of town to spend their money in Oak Bluffs and Edgartown. I am hoping that a developer will buy the lot, beautify the space, bring in businesses, and money from taxes.

  8. Do you have any understanding of what “highest and best use” means? But you are right about the leadership – Tisbury needs some right now.

  9. am I the only one that see’s this is a business owner looking for free ride at the expense of the tisbury tax payers. Without a secure long term lease what does Nat have to sell, if it becomes non profit he gets a long term lease then he sells his business and he moves to Maine, he gains and the taxpayers lose. The property is an eye sore it could be developed within the constraints of current zoning and become an asset to the town, the taxpayers and enhance the business c community.

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