An ambitious plan to replace the old Phillips Hardware building in Oak Bluffs with a three-story structure more than double the size of the original is nearly ready for a vote by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission.

If plan is allowed, a new three-story building will go up on the site in two phases over a period of years. — Mark Lovewell

The commission closed a public hearing on the plan last week.

Donna Leon and Susan Phillips, sisters who own the family business, want to tear down the 8,570-square-foot brick building and replace it with a 17,844-square foot edifice that would house the familiar Circuit avenue hardware store on the ground floor, with eight hotel suites with shared kitchens and common rooms in the upper stories. The new building would reflect features of the Victorian-era Oakwood Hotel, part of which still stands on the site.

The original plan called for putting three four-bedroom apartments above the ground-floor business, but changes were made following the discovery of a town bylaw that would restrict the number and size of the apartments. Town zoning also limits occupancy in hotel suites with kitchens to four consecutive months, or any six months during a year.

An effort is under way to amend the town zoning bylaw, but that process will take a separate track, running at least through the annual town meeting next April.

Meanwhile, hardware store owners hope to move ahead with the rest of the work, pending commission approval, with a goal of starting construction in the fall of 2017. The project is designed in two phases.

But working in the high-density business district is a challenge in itself. The owners of Reliable Market have denied the use of their parking lot behind the building, citing concerns about potential damage during construction. Chuck Sullivan, the architect on the project, is now seeking permission from the town to use the sidewalk and nine parking spots in front of the building instead, with foot traffic redirected around the site.

Mark Lovewell

The owners of the Arcade building across the street have raised concerns about how the project will affect the character of the business district. Among other things, they note that a third-floor apartment in their building will no longer have a view of Ocean Park and Nantucket Sound. In a September letter to the commission on behalf of the owners, architect Donald B. Corner called the project “monolithic in its impact,” and urged a thorough review by the commission.

Others have voiced support for the project. In a recent letter Renee Balter, a member of the Oak Bluffs historical commission, described Phillips Hardware part of the “heartbeat of our business district” and said the project would “go a long way to protect the economic integrity of our downtown business community.” She also welcomed the potential contribution to the rental housing market.

At the final hearing last Thursday longtime town resident Richard Toole called the project “a breath of fresh air” and praised its location in the center of town. “We all know that we need housing,” he said, “and the best place to put housing is where we already have housing, where we already have infrastructure. It’s a perfect location.”

The commission land-use planning committee is set to discuss the project Monday, with a vote by the full commission tentatively set for Nov. 3.