The loud crunch of a claw excavator cutting into a roof line was in the air Tuesday morning as demolition of the former Hinckley’s lumber yard in Vineyard Haven began.

Two large John Deere excavators tackled the job, beginning shortly after 8 a.m. While one of the machines clawed down the building, the other scooped up the debris and loaded it into a large dumpster.

A state police detail kept traffic moving along Beach Road as the work continued. The entire site was surrounded by yellow caution tape, with a few curious onlookers watching the demolition and taking pictures.

The lumber yard has stood at 61 Beach Road for more than a century and was founded by Herbert N. Hinckley, one of the Island’s most prominent citizens of day. Until the property was sold earlier this year, it was still run by family descendants.

The only one of the five buildings on the property to be demolished at this time is the former home center showroom, with an attached lumber storage facility.

Robert Sawyer, one of the developers of the site said the demolition is needed to make way for development of the 1.6 acre property.

“The question before us was to pay to fix that up and generate some temporary income from it while we’re in the development stage,” Mr. Sawyer said. “We came to the conclusion that economically the best thing to do is just tear it down. It’s a step we’ve got to go through.”

Mr. Sawyer is part of a development group that hopes to rebuild the area with 8,000 square feet of commercial space and an 82-unit condominium development.

No formal plans have been filed yet.

The property was purchased by Aquinnah real estate investor Larkin B. Reeves on July 31 for $2.3 million.

Ownership of the property has since been reorganized into a corporation called Harborwood LLC., according to Mr. Sawyer. Mr. Sawyer and Mr. Reeves are two of five principles in the new corporation.