Edgartown cuts ribbon on Yellow House

Historic building sat in disrepair for years.

Town employees, builders, architects, and other stakeholders involved with the Yellow House project gathered in front of the historic building early Thursday morning for a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Edgartown selectman Arthur Smadbeck gave a short speech thanking all those involved, and the Edgartown voters for approving and completing the renovation of the historic 1850 building.

The renovation of the building was the result of a public-private partnership between the town and Christopher Celeste, who owns Rosewater Market & Takeaway and Dairy Queen. 

The prime piece of real estate, which abuts town hall, sat in disrepair for years until voters approved taking the building by eminent domain at the April 2017 town meeting and town election. It was previously owned by the Hall family.

Town voters authorized the board of selectmen to use $1.5 million in Community Preservation funds and $1.5 million in town taxes to take the building.

Celeste, operating as Summer & Main LLC of Edgartown, put in a bid and secured a 30-year lease with the town to renovate and operate the building. The lease secures $100,000 payment over the 30-year lease to the town, and a commitment that the renovation would be completed and suitable as a retail space.

The new building boasts new apartments and a Lululemon retail store.

Smadbeck said the end result was “beautiful” and “astonishing.”

“From the outside it appeared to be a very seamless operation, but I assure you it wasn’t. It was very complicated,” Smadbeck said. 

Chris Scott, who chaired the Yellow House committee during the bid process, said it took a great leap of faith from Edgartown voters to approve taking the property by eminent domain. “Every one of our buildings is part of our heritage, and every one of them is a stitch in the fabric of this legacy,” Scott said. “This one was in terrible shape … 20 years of neglect, empty, open to the weather, just an amazing blight on Main Street.”

Celeste acknowledged all the voters, public committees, town employees, builders, and architects for their efforts in completing the project. He also thanked his project partners, Gerret Conover and Dudley Cannada, and MV Bank for helping finance the project.

“I think what this project demonstrates is what people can do together. Particularly at this moment in time, with everything that’s going on around our country, being reminded about what people with goodwill can do,” Celeste said. “Thank you for letting us be a part of this.”