A condemned, dilapidated building off Water street in Vineyard Haven will be the next project for the Island Housing Trust thanks to Steve Bernier, the owner of Cronig’s Market, who announced Friday he had donated the house to the trust.
The move is both an act of community philanthropy and a strategic business maneuver for Mr. Bernier, the longtime owner of the Cronig’s grocery franchise in Vineyard Haven and West Tisbury. This spring the Stop and Shop supermarket corporation paid $950,000 for an adjacent building that housed the Golden Dragon restaurant as part of an expansion plan for the Water street store that sits at the gateway to downtown Vineyard Haven.
Following the purchase by Stop and Shop, Mr. Bernier paid $700,000 for the house at 6 Water street between the Golden Dragon and AA Island Auto Rental.
“I just spent a bunch of money on [down-Island Cronig’s] to have a store for the next 30 to 40 years for the Island, and there are only so many apples in a bushel basket,” he told the Gazette in a tour of the site on Friday afternoon. “I have no use for the property, so if I’m going to spend this money the best use I could think for it is to donate it to the Island Housing trust. They’re still pinching themselves.”
Housing trust executive director Philippe Jordi and board member Richard Leonard were also at the site.
Mr. Jordi said the building will be torn down.
“The building is condemned,” he said. “It’s completely caved in and has to come down.
“We don’t know what will be there just yet, but there will be a residential component to it and there might be some first-floor office space.”
He and Mr. Leonard praised and thanked Mr. Bernier for the donation.
“It’s one of the single largest donations to affordable housing on the Island,” Mr. Jordi said. “It’s obviously really exciting because of its location. We’re incredibly grateful to Steve.”
Jane Wilbur of Vineyard Haven was passing by as the three men posed for pictures on the front steps of the crumbling house.
“Are they buying this?” she asked. “Yay! That’s great.”