Investors led by Nat Benjamin have an agreement to purchase the Gannon & Benjamin building, and a second building at 30 Beach Road in Vineyard Haven where The Martha’s Vineyard Times is located, Benjamin confirmed Tuesday.
“We signed a purchase and sale agreement,” Benjamin said. “Now we have until March 16 to raise a whole pile of money and close.”
The two properties at 30 Beach Road were on the market together for $3 million. Benjamin declined to disclose the sale price.
Peter Cronig, who is handling the real estate for the DeSorcy family, could not be immediately reached for comment.
Simone DeSorcy, reached by email, declined to comment.
In August 2018, the DeSorcys put all of their waterfront properties on the Vineyard Haven waterfront on the market for $8 million. Last February, when the properties failed to sell, they were split into four parcels, and the overall price was dropped to $7.3 million.
Gannon & Benjamin is a wooden boatbuilding company with a long history on the Vineyard Haven waterfront. In 2020, the company celebrated its 40th anniversary.
Benjamin told The Times he has spoken with potential investors and there is some interest. “Well, we’ve had a fair bit of interest, but so far we haven’t got many commitments,” he said. “I don’t expect everyone to start writing checks right away.”
Benjamin is in the process of having a limited liability company set up for the property. “We’ve got a long way to go,” he said.
As for the future of The Times, Benjamin acknowledged that the boatbuilder would like to use that space, as well. He said there would be no immediate changes when the sale is finalized until at least the fall.
“We look forward to working with Nat or finding a suitable location to serve our staff and the public,” Times publisher Peter Oberfest said.
The other properties on the waterfront — 32, 34, and 40 Beach Road — include two art studios with apartments, and an unoccupied warehouse which was the former home of the DeSorcy Paint building.
Part of the reason the property has been difficult to sell is because its use is restricted, as it falls within commercial waterfront use through a district of critical planning concern (DCPC). A DCPC denotes a special area on Martha’s Vineyard that is important to more than one town on the Island, or to the Island as a whole, and is subject to a clearly defined process.
More than 20 years ago, the Martha’s Vineyard Commission enacted the DCPC, which restricts commercial use of the property to water-dependent businesses such as boatyards, aquaculture, and marine terminals in areas 100 feet back from the high-water mark.
“The commission specifically finds that the lands and waters within the district are essential to shellfishing resources and to the protection of the water quality and associated natural resource habitats,” the DCPC act reads.