A rare and secluded south shore Martha’s Vineyard property goes on the market today with a record asking price: $118 million for 314 acres in West Tisbury.
Gerald DeBlois, a longtime seasonal resident, has decided to sell his entire landholdings which include more than 250 acres of dry oak forest, a 35-acre private freshwater pond and some 1,200 feet of unspoiled Atlantic Ocean beachfront. It is one of the largest contiguous privately-owned properties left on the Vineyard.
A year ago Mr. DeBlois placed 266 acres of his property on the market with an asking price of $92 million, a record at the time. Now he has added his home and about 50 acres around it to the selling package. Some 141 acres on the northern end of the property are covered by a conservation restriction held by The Nature Conservancy and cannot be developed.
The addition of the DeBlois home and surrounding property to the previous sale package expands the beachfront area to be sold. It also has the effect of reducing the price of what went on the market last year from $92 to $74 million. The price on the DeBlois house and surrounding acreage is $44 million. The properties may be sold separately or together, the owner and his agents said.
This marks the second time in the past three months that a significant Island property has been placed on the market with an asking price of many millions. In early May the Kennedy family listed two large, undeveloped oceanfront lots for sale at Red Gate Farm in Aquinnah; they are priced at $25 million for a 53-acre lot and $20 million for a 39-acre lot. The lots are still on the market.
Mr. DeBlois told the Gazette this week that he made a strategy decision to put everything up for sale because he thought it might be more attractive to a buyer or possibly a group of buyers.
“We obviously have had the property on the market since last July and decided sometime this winter that we needed to refocus,” he said. “And we became convinced that to attract people to the property we needed to do this. I’m 72 years old and I don’t want to do this twice.”
Mr. DeBlois said he plans to stay on the Vineyard where he spends six months a year — either in his own home or in another home if his is sold. “I have no intention of leaving; I have been coming here for 31 summers and plan to spend many more and to continue my involvement in the community,” he said.
Any sale of the house and surrounding acreage is contingent on the purchase of at least some part of the rest of the property.
Situated deep in the scrub-oak forestland that rims the Atlantic-facing south shore where Edgartown ends and West Tisbury begins, the property is dry upland with no wetlands. It is almost completely undisturbed; besides the main house and tennis court, the only other structures on the property are a modest house behind Homer’s Pond and a small beach house built on pilings, south of the main dwelling. The property’s centerpiece is Homer’s Pond, a landlocked freshwater Great Pond that, like its cousin to the east, Watcha Pond, does not breach to the sea. There are sweeping views of the Atlantic and nearby barrier beach. The pond is surrounded by old grasslands speckled with salt-blasted ancient oaks, summer yarrow and trailing bush clover. Wild cranberry bogs were formerly found there.
The property has a rich history of human habitation dating to the time when Native Americans made summer camps where the fresh water, fish and berries were abundant. In the 1800s it was one of a number of sheep farms that prospered all along the south shore of the Vineyard from the Edgartown Great Pond to Sepiessa, until the wool market became depressed. In the early 1900s Homer’s Pond was the site of a duck hunting club owned by a group of prominent Vineyard Haven businessmen.
Today the land on both sides of Homer’s Pond on the southern end is in conservation and owned by The Trustees of Reservations, a gift from a previous owner. Long Point Wildlife Reservation, a Trustees property, lies to the west. Little Homer’s Pond is in front of the main dwelling, just north of the barrier beach.
Mr. DeBlois bought the property in the early 1990s in more than one piece, much of it from the Hadley family.
In an unusual approach, he has decided to create his own marketing company to sell the property.
The company is named South Light Property LLC; its sole mission is to sell the DeBlois property. A website for South Light goes live today, as does a listing in LINK, the Vineyard’s multiple listing service for real estate. South Light is owned by Charles Carlson, a real estate broker and attorney who owns a multi-family office specializing in wealth management in Woburn. Mr. Carlson will be chiefly in charge of marketing the property, along with Grace Bloodwell, a real estate broker out of Charlestown. No local brokers are involved as listing agents, although Mr. Carlson said all Island brokers will be invited to show and market the property to their clients. Creative, upscale marketing will be done nationally and internationally, he said.
Mr. Carlson agreed that creating a new company to market the property is out of the ordinary. “Marketing companies for individual pieces of real estate are not an everyday thing, but pieces of property as special as Gerry’s are not an everyday thing,” he said. “This called for special treatment.” He continued: “The marketing initiative will involve traditional approaches of listing the property in LINK and Island-based marketing efforts in local media. In addition to that this effort — and we think it’s appropriate — is going to be pretty proactive in reaching out to potential buyers and parties who deal with potential buyers around the country and internationally. That is hard to imagine a local broker doing on his own. By having his own marketing company, Gerry can say, spend as much time as you need.”
A site plan for the property creates three large parcels that may be sold in a variety of combinations, ranging from $31 million for 100 acres to $118 for the entire parcel. “Gerry has made it possible for people to buy portions of the property,” Ms. Bloodwell said. “The thinking is that perhaps one family or a group of friends might want to get together and buy all or part of the property. I think the whole property would be a magnificent one-family thing, but if someone doesn’t want to go for the whole thing, we are offering an alternative.” A press release about the sale went out today. “The property’s unique size and terrain maximize seclusion and privacy, its proximity to the airport ensures quick access, and for those looking for an active and social lifestyle, Edgartown is just minutes away,” Mr. Carlson said in the release.
For more photos of the rarely-seen land, see our gallery: Large Property in West Tisbury Listed for $118 Million.