Edgartown Businessmen Plan Luxury Club

By James Kinsella
Gazette Senior Writer

A high-end Edgartown investor group is proposing to build a members-only recreational facility in Katama as part of an ambitious effort linked to the reconstruction of the Navigator restaurant on the town harbor, and a wider revival of downtown Edgartown.

The seven-acre recreational facility, planned in the midst of an already permitted 32-lot subdivision at the former Grant Brothers sand pit, would include tennis, squash and paddle tennis courts, as well as a pool and a fitness building.

The facility would be named The Field Club.

Key principals for the project are Gerrett D. Conover and Tom LeClair, who are also partners in LandVest of Edgartown, a well-known high-end real estate company. Mr. Conover and Mr. LeClair hope the facility will generate enough revenue to help transform the Navigator, a longtime seasonal restaurant at the foot of Main street, into a facility that will include a private club and public function space on the second floor, as well as retail and restaurant space on the first floor. Plans for the rebuilt Navigator also would include a pedestrian walkway between the building and the harbor.

The two men bought the Navigator a year ago for $3.5 million.

This week they described a vision for creating an inviting harbor gateway to downtown Edgartown that would spark renewed economic activity in an area where business has been softening in recent years.

"We felt it was a unique opportunity, a chance to make a difference, to lead by example," said Mr. Conover. "We're trying to give people more of a reason to come to the downtown area."

Plans for the facility were filed this week with the Edgartown zoning board of appeals, and will be referred to the Martha's Vineyard Commission for review as a development of regional impact (DRI). The subdivision, which is owned by a group that includes Edgartown selectman Michael Donaroma, was previously reviewed and approved by the commission as a DRI.

Mr. Conover and Mr. LeClair said they hope to obtain the necessary permits to start construction on both the recreational facility and the Navigator by September. Cost estimates are not yet available for the projects.

But they said investors plan to fund the work themselves, rather than turn to outside financing.

Memberships in the private club would include the use of both the Navigator club space and The Field Club at Katama. The number and cost of memberships has not been determined yet, Mr. Conover and Mr. LeClair said.

Parking at The Field Club would be limited by the size of the facility. As for the downtown facility, Mr. Conover and Mr. LeClair are eyeing valet-style service tied to off-site parking.

The two men said anticipated revenue from the retail space and the private club at the Navigator would not be enough to carry the cost of renovating the building and its surroundings. The Field Club will add another revenue stream.

The facility is planned to be built on seven lots in the center of the Grant Brothers pit subdivision, which is owned by B.A.D.D. Company LLC. The company name is based on the surnames of its owners: Alex Alexander and Tim Dyke of Alexander & Dyke Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Co.; Mr. Donaroma, who owns Donaroma's Nursery and Landscaping; and Peter Bettencourt, who operates an irrigation and landscaping business.

Mr. LeClair said his investment group has an option to purchase the seven lots contingent on obtaining the necessary permits. Residents of the subdivision would be granted club memberships.

As part of the plan, town sewer service would be extended to the subdivision. Details have yet to be worked out as to what extent the B.A.D.D. owners or the facility would share in the cost of that extension.

If The Field Club plan moves forward as envisioned, Mr. Conover and Mr. LeClair said, the density of the overall subdivision will be reduced and the impact of septic disposal eliminated.

They said they hope that the combined appeal of the Katama facility and the downtown club will inspire members to spend more time in Edgartown, especially in the spring and fall shoulder seasons.

They said the investor group also is interested in helping fund beautification efforts in downtown Edgartown, including contributing to the cost of burying overhead lines on major streets.

The renovation plan for the Navigator property has already been approved by the town historic district commission, the conservation commission and the planning board. State waterways officials are reviewing the plan under Chapter 91, the state law that governs the use of tidelands in Massachusetts.