A proposal to build 10 new apartments in two Post Office Square buildings has some residents concerned about increasing traffic to an already congested area, while others praise the addition of new housing options on the Island.
A Martha’s Vineyard Commission public hearing opened late last week to review Charles Hajjar’s plan to building 10 apartments in the Four Flags Condominiums at post office square. The apartments would go in existing second-story attic space in two buildings; one houses the post office and the other a Bank of America ATM and other retail space.
The commission is reviewing the project as a development of regional impact (DRI).
The developer has said the apartments would be year-round rentals for year-round workers, with each apartment rented for a minimum of 12 months. According to commission DRI coordinator Paul Foley, the 10 apartments would house 20 bedrooms; there would be one three-bedroom apartment, eight one-bedroom apartments and one two-bedroom apartment. Proposed year-round rents would be $1,200 to $1,500 monthly, Mr. Foley said, and would primarily target single professionals and couples earning between 100 and 130 per cent of area median income.
The applicant has also offered to make a one-time mitigation payment of $35,600 to the Edgartown affordable housing committee.
The height of the buildings would remain the same, because the attic space would be built out with dormers. The apartments would be reached through outdoor stairs and a new indoor stairway. The applicant said exterior construction would not take place between May 20 and Sept. 30.
Post Office Square includes two other buildings that house Granite Hardware and Edgartown Meat and Fish, among other retail businesses. The parking lot currently has 69 parking spots; the plan includes adding 12 parking spots for a total of 83.
The commission received more than a dozen letters about the project, all “pretty strenuously in opposition,” Mr. Foley said, with concerns about people cutting through the Dark Woods neighborhood, parking problems at the existing parking lot and the project’s proximity to the congested triangle intersection.
Attorney Sean Murphy, who is representing the developer, said traffic and parking issues will exist “whether these apartments are built or not built. That doesn’t change.”
Engineer George Sourati said the parking lot would be reorganized to fit in about a dozen more parking spaces.
“We anticipate being in the lower end of the rental range,” Mr. Murphy said. he said the developer envisions stable, clean, well-maintained rentals for people who are “outside the affordable housing range but don’t make enough money to buy their own house.” The project would fill a need for workforce housing, he said.
Mr. Murphy said the project cost would be about $2.5 million, plus the existing cost of the buildings. “It’s a very, very long repayment plan,” he said. “It’s a long term investment that he’s willing to make.”
Three members of the Edgartown planning board attended the hearing Thursday. In their referral to the commission, the board asked that any conditions written by the MVC come in the form of recommendations.
“As I see more and more about this project I see some of the questions that I had and the board had have been somewhat answered,” planning board member Michael McCourt said. “Obviously its a very big project in an area that’s very concentrated,” he said. “Be careful, go softly and this could work.”
The commission continued the hearing to April 17.