It’s been a long and twisty road, but an exciting new chapter is now being written for the Yellow House, the property in the heart of downtown Edgartown that has been a crumbling eyesore for too many years.

Long-term lease negotiations are under way between the town and a private development group led by Vineyard Haven contractor Mark Nicotera that won the right last week to redevelop the property.

And if at first blush the pending Yellow House real estate deal looks like a riff on the catchy title for the book by the 1970s counterculture guru Abbie Hoffman — steal this house! — in fact it has the potential to be a very good deal for both the town and the developer.

It’s easy to airbrush history, but remember that the longtime former owners showed no inclination to either fix up or sell the house, which occupies a highly visible spot in the Edgartown commercial district.

Assuming that the two sides can come to terms, the Nicotera group plans to invest some two million dollars to rehab the sagging, vacant building that sits next door to the town hall. A historic building, the Yellow House formerly housed a bookstore and other shops.

The new vision for the property includes retail space and apartments, a small public park and additional parking — all smart ideas for the town center.

And even if the Nicotera group only pays the town forty nine thousand dollars over the life of a thirty-year lease as it has proposed, the developer is still taking on all the risk by investing its own money in the project. In the short term, the town gets a makeover at 66 Main street. And at the end of the lease, the town will own a fully-restored property.

This is a public-private partnership that makes sense, and an excellent example of government leaders learning from mistakes of the past.

The acquisition of the Yellow House by eminent domain was approved last year by a wide majority by Edgartown voters, the same voters who more than a decade before made the ill-fated decision to buy the Capt. Warren house on North Water street. But where town officials allowed that historic house to languish after a plan to expand the old Carnegie Library fell through, the selectmen laid out a clear process for dealing with the Yellow House that would not rely on public funds for development. The Warren House was ultimately sold, at a significant loss to the town.

After last year’s town meeting vote, the selectmen moved swiftly and methodically to deal with the property. A subcommittee was created, public meetings were held and a request for proposals was drafted. At first there was a flurry of interest from potential developers, but when the dust settled a short time later, there were only two bidding groups. Then one group dropped out after it became clear that parts of its proposal were outside the bounds of the RFP. That left the Nicotera group, whose financial backer is Stephen Berger and architect is Dudley Cannada. The proposal won high marks all around from the subcommittee that vetted it, including for historic preservation, a stated priority for the town.

In the end if it all leads to a major upgrade in the heart of one of the prettiest villages in New England, Edgartown voters can be assured that three million dollars was money well spent, with lasting benefits for future generations.