The former firehouse off Old Courthouse Road in West Tisbury will come down to make way for affordable apartments.

At a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday, Island Housing Trust staff and board members dug green shovels into the ground to mark the start of the project to build a duplex unit on the site.

The project has been years in the making since the West Tisbury affordable housing committee first eyed the town-owned site at 16 Old Courthouse Road.

The duplex will include two apartments, a one-bedroom and a two-bedroom unit that will be rented out and managed by the Dukes County Housing Authority.

The two-bay firehouse has been out of use for many years and had been used for storage by the town.

“It’s an iconic West Tisbury building so it’s a bit bittersweet we’ll be taking this down but we will be replacing it with a home for two Island families and or individuals,” said IHT executive Philippe Jordi at the ceremony.

Demolition is set to begin next week. Keith McGuire, project manager for IHT, said the granite blocks the building sits on will be preserved and incorporated into the landscape design, but the rest of the structure will not be saved.

“We’ve had many, many people look at it,” Mr. McGuire said. “We’ve had experienced builders look at it, experienced salvagers look at it and even the people who we’re paying to take it apart and take it away said it’s not worth it for them to try to do that.”

The estimated completion date for the project is sometime in late fall.