Stop & Shop property deemed unsafe

Grocery chain will demolish 14 Water St. following a town order.

The former Golden Dragon restaurant, now a Stop & Shop warehouse, will be razed. — Rich Saltzberg

Updated 3:30 pm

A building owned by Stop & Shop that’s adjacent to its Vineyard Haven store has been placed under a “remove or make safe” order by the town of Tisbury. Stop & Shop has opted to demolish the building. 

“We are working with the town to demolish the building on site, and we are finalizing an action plan and timing accordingly,” Stop & Shop spokesperson Caroline Medeiros emailed. 

Formerly the Golden Dragon Chinese restaurant, the building at 14 Water St. has been declared “dangerous to the life and limb of individuals entering the structure, and those passing by on the public sidewalk,” a town order states. The town has closed the sidewalk in front of the building. 

The building is described as a “Stop & Shop Warehouse” in the order. On June 7, Tisbury building commissioner Ross Seavey, Tisbury Fire Chief Greg Leland, Tisbury Deputy Fire Chief Patrick Rolston, and local building inspector Justin Lucas joined a structural engineer on an inspection of the building. 

“The inspection revealed a structure that suffers from serious water intrusion through failed fenestrations, and a leaking roof that has resulted in significant rot in an exterior façade, and multiple areas of collapsed interior drywall ceilings,” the order states. “In addition to these issues, there are two support columns that were no longer supplying structural support due to their deterioration or disconnection from the point load they are intended to support. These issues, combined with the overall poor shape of the first-floor framing caused by years of modifications to the structures, has resulted in significant deterioration of the front façade, including the internal collapse of wall framing, and the buckling and sagging of the second-level floor structure. The observed structural failures of the building have resulted in a structure that is dangerous to the life and limb of individuals entering the structure, and those passing by on the public sidewalk.”

Stop & Shop was ordered to remove all its merchandise from the building, chain the door, and forbid further entry. The grocery chain had until Monday to declare whether it would try to shore up the building or raze it. Seavey told The Times Stop & Shop will ultimately demolish the building, but initially it will only demolish part of it, and make the remainder safe, until it can be taken down after the summer. 

“We met on site with the building Inspector and fire chief on Monday morning to review the structure and formulate a plan for the safe demolition of the structure,” Geoghan Coogan, a Vineyard Haven attorney who represents Stop & Shop, emailed. “Our engineering team is working expeditiously to devise a plan as I write this. We have followed up with the building department as of this morning with a proposed plan, and will expedite this process to the best of our ability. There are two immediate goals, the first being to secure the physical structure through a partial demolition in order to create a safe sidewalk along Water Street before a full demolition can occur. And two, to do so before the full summer season is upon us, in particular the Fourth of July holiday weekend.” 

Back in 1994 the building, when it was a restaurant, caught fire. As The Times reported then, in addition to heat and smoke damage, the building suffered water damage. 

Stop and Shop previously made a bid to build a new, larger store that would have included 14 Water St. However, the plans were put on hold in 2014 after a lot of opposition to the project

Seavey said the building, which appears to have been remodeled at various times, has been used by Stop & Shop for storage. He noted there is an apartment on the top floor, but it’s not in use. 

Updated to include comments from Stop & Shop and its attorney.


  1. I remember with great nostalgia the root beer stand that once occupied the building. When you eventually renovate or rebuild, please save room for a couple of taps and a freezer for the mugs! Yummy.

    • Oh yeah! Boston Coolers in frozen mugs at the Harborlight , A&W (and maybe? Richardson’s?) Root Beer Stand there. Pure kids’ delight on a hot August day.
      But there is none of that to save now… except perhaps decades of priceless root beer essence and echoes of satisfied thirst in the ground below.

  2. Let’s hope the Martha’s Vineyard Commission gets a chance to give an opinion on this and force them into saving it. This building has so much historical significance I hate to see it go.

    • I hope your kidding Mr Murphy? That building has to be one of the most unsightly buildings on the Island. What historical value? Wonton soup?

  3. The whole of Stop and Shop needs to go and a new one built with a parking garage…this island is it and will never again be the quaint little island it once was…that’s long gone.

  4. Oh my S & S rebuild ????Lets hope they don’t leave an fenced off empty hole forever
    Let alone a nostalgic root beer stand

  5. Excellent opportunity to raze and build affordable housing. A nice 10 unit apartment building. Let’s goooo!

    • Carl– I think they already did that. Steve Bernier bought the other dilapidated building right next to this one and put affordable housing there to stop the S&S renovation in 2014.
      It would be nice to have real store at the entrance to the Vineyard. One where you could actually buy paper towels without having to go through a maze of workspaces.

      • Very true. It might be time to rethink the entire area for new development. A couple of mixed use buildings with housing above created in a historically aesthetic way that is appealing to those driving off the ferry. Demolish and relocate the Stop&Shop, perhaps off Edgartown VH road back by the UPS hub. Reduce traffic at five corners and finally have a modern shopping center with plenty of room for shopping, parking and truck deliveries.

        Now, let the rocks be thrown for simply offering an idea.

        • Stop & Shop’s current location is needed right where it is. It is perfectly located to serve the elderly, handicapped and other non drivers because it is close to the post office, the bank and other shopping. Most important, it is close to the VTA hub.

  6. This wouldn’t have happened if the town had allowed S&S to build a new building awhile ago.

  7. The building is not worth saving. Stop and Shop should be using that space to create parking for its’ customers/ employees and giant food trucks that currently occupy the town parking lot. Where are the Selectmen on this?
    The town has been waiting for years for Stop and Shop to come back with a better building proposal.

    • Marie– I agree the building is not worth saving. However it’s footprint is such that it could not provide parking space for more than 5 compact cars. Simply going on google earth and looking at the length of a truck parked next to the stop and shop clearly shows that it is longer than the building in question. Not to mention, there would be no way for a truck of that size to actually be able to maneuver into that space.
      If we are going to have a rational and respectful debate about this — which we clearly need — I would appreciate it if everyone thought about what they are saying before they say it.
      Please . Thanks

  8. Yes, it was lovely long ago and no one hates change more than I do, but it’s too late for all that. Stop and Shop should have fought to renovate and rebuild when they proposed it in whatever year that was.

  9. Thanks Tisbury Eeores. Tisbury can’t have nice things. We need to stay the do nothing town forever…..unless of course it is to be the launching point for turbine maintenance and affordable housing and the main hub for people to come and go most of the year. Those things are ok. No nice things at all, ever. Change is bad. We should rough up Beach Road as soon as possible because now people will speed because of the new pavement. Very Dangerous! Thank goodness we at least have Pizza choices!

    • Oh my! Perry Houser you are obviously not aware of the design changes which actually make the Beach Road corridor fantastically better and safer. The road is newly paved, yes. But it is done in such a way that the vehicle travel lanes are now 1 1/2 feet narrower than previously and this requires more attention and precision in driving and calms traffic. It is part of the design and enhances safe bicycling by increasing the cyclists space very significantly. The previous cycling space was technically 3 feet to a 5 foot sidewalk. The sidewalks were a total wreck and are now 6 feet wide and slope 1 degree toward the road for water runoff. The previous totally useless sand and trash littered bike lanes completely uneven and often non-existent are now a generous 5 feet wide and provide safe cycling while simultaneously avoiding the MV Commission proposed totally unsafe Shared Use Path that would have also damaged businesses and destroyed shade trees. It is now a fantastic improvement despite our Select Board efforts to prevent it and the MV Commission efforts to damage Tisbury and harm cyclists. It is a wonder it was created, but we have it. Be happy, rest assured this is the best most forward thinking innovation in a century and we should be proud of Lawrence Lynch Company which has done an incredible job with numerous modifications to make it even better. Be happy, be safe, the design is just fine.

      • Frank– I agree with you about all the improvements. After all is said and done, it seems pretty good.
        But bicycles should not be on sidewalks in a business district.
        MGL section 11 B:3 states “(3) bicycles may be ridden on sidewalks outside business districts when necessary in the interest of safety, unless otherwise directed by local ordinance. A person operating a bicycle on the sidewalk shall yield the right of way to pedestrians and give an audible signal before overtaking and passing any pedestrian”
        My personal opinion is that a bicyclist should avoid riding on a sidewalk unless absolutely necessary.

  10. If I were to bet on it, I would say it’s much more likely that someone will get hit by a vehicle while getting around the closed sidewalk that having the building collapse on them.
    But by all means, it sounds like this building has to come down quickly.

  11. Well as someone said if the town had nixs the. Company’s original plans this would never have happened. I bet they leave an empty lot. I doubt they will sell it to a competitor.

  12. I remember, among others, Eddy Larkosh playing jazz at the Chinese restaurant. The food and cleanliness was dicey, but the music was great! But clearly the building needs to be demolished, and the S&S needs to totally renovate its whole vast space. Why ever did Tisbury turn their plan down? The Vineyard Haven SS terminal and surroundings is an important gateway to the Island and frankly its look is pretty lamentable, new sidewalks and road aside.

  13. Don no need to get snarky. Instead of complaining, come up with an suggestion. No need to demonize people because of an idea, all you had to say “it wouldn’t and here’s why.”

  14. Don, my friend, you must have misread Franks letter. Yes, it is against the law for bikes to ride on sidewalks in a business district. The bike lanes are on both side of the roadway, as they should be, not on the sidewalks. One problem we have had as bicyclists for as long as I have been one, is that there has been no information publicly and prominently displayed, (also in several languages), about which side bicycles, by law, ride on. This results in some bikers facing traffic while other bikers are riding with traffic. In other countries there are different laws, and we have international residents and visitors. By law, bicycles must ride with, not against traffic. The new painted directions on the bike lanes should help tremendously. Ding Dong the Shared Use Path is Dead. An accidental good thing.

    • Shelly– You are correct. As I read my comment, it clearly implies that I am implying that Frank is advocating for bikes on sidewalks. My use of the word “but” is misplaced, as well as well as the general tone following that.
      However, it was not my intent to criticize Frank, but rather to take an opportunity to address
      a common misconception about safe bike riding.
      Thank you for your comment pointing out the unfortunate way that I composed that comment.
      My apologies to Frank.

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