EduComp redevelopment passes commission review 

The housing project still has some steps to go before construction begins. 

A rendering of what the 4 State Road property could look like once the proposed construction is completed. —Courtesy MVC

The redevelopment of the former EduComp building in Vineyard Haven into housing took a step forward. 

The Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) voted 9-2 in favor of the proposed 4 State Road housing project during a Thursday evening meeting.

The two dissenting votes came from Tisbury commissioner Ben Robinson and governor’s appointee Michael Kim, who wanted to see more commercial use of the building. 

Real estate developer Xerxes Agassi is proposing to convert the now-closed EduComp building into 14 units of housing split between one- and three-bedroom units. Eight units would be set aside for year-round, market-rate workforce housing units; one workforce housing unit would be limited to up to 150 percent of the area median income (this would be up to $136,800 for a one-person household, according to the Dukes County Regional Housing Authority); one workforce housing unit would be limited to up to 80 percent of the area median income (this would be up to $87,470 for a one-person household, according to the housing authority), and four market-rate units that will be required to be rented for at least one week. 

Agassi is also proposing three office units on the first floor. 

Additionally, Agassi offered five housing units at 52 William St. in Tisbury — which he also owns — to be offered at market rate and restricted, for 10 years, to Island-based employees and year-round Islanders.

Commissioners unanimously voted in favor of giving preference for the 80 percent area median income–restricted unit to municipal workers, which would require state approval. MVC Island housing planner Laura Silber said the commission could help Tisbury bring the issue to the state for consideration. “They currently cannot create this on their own, nor can any publicly funded project create this kind of preference,” Silber said. 

While the project would help meet housing needs on the Island, Robinson said more of the State Road property’s business aspect should be preserved, since it is a “significant building” within Vineyard Haven’s downtown commercial district. He proposed a condition that more of the front of the building facing Main Street be reserved for commercial purposes. 

Agassi said the idea was feasible, but it would impact the amount of housing offered. 

An 8-3 straw vote showed the commissioners disapproved of Robinson’s proposal. 

Robinson tried to have Agassi return with a revised plan, but Oak Bluffs commissioner and chair Fred Hancock shut his motion down, saying that it was “out of order” because it would kick the project back to the public hearing phase. 

The commission on Thursday reviewed a number of considerations on whether the project would have a negative, beneficial, or neutral impact on the Island. The project, considering factors like providing housing and economic opportunities, was deemed as beneficial to Tisbury. 

A condition that was approved in a split 6-5 vote, proposed by Robinson, was requiring Agassi to use shutters made from natural materials, rather than PVC, to prevent plastic waste. Some members who were against the measure, like Tisbury commissioner Greg Martino, felt it was an overstep. 

Ultimately, commissioners approved the project. 

The redevelopment will still need a building permit from Tisbury. But even before that, the Massachusetts Historical Commission is requiring additional information, like plans for ground disturbance, to determine whether additional archeological examination will be needed before construction begins.