The Warren House, a town-owned North Water street mansion that has recently fallen into a state of disrepair, at last has a new owner.
The Edgartown selectmen Monday accepted a $2.5 million bid for the house from Chestnut Hill resident Jeffrey Wolk.
Carroll & Vincent Real Estate broker James E. Joyce, who represented Mr. Wolk, said his client plans to turn the nearly 225-year-old mansion into a home for his family.
The town bought the house in 2004 for $3.5 million, planning to use the land to expand the 1904 Carnegie library next door. This plan fell through — the town had plans to tear down the building and build a parking lot, but the historic district committee said the historic home could not be demolished — and the town received state funding to build a new library next to the Edgartown School.
Town meeting voted almost two years ago to sell the historic house, while the Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust has expressed interest in taking over the Carnegie library building once the library moves to the new location.
This was the third time the town advertised the house in the central registry; it was first listed in fall 2012 with a minimum bid of $2.5 million, but received no bids. The second time there was no minimum, but the lone offer of one million plus a portion of sale proceeds was deemed too low by selectmen.
The house is now in a state of disrepair, with peeling paint, weeds growing through the boards on the porch and mold inside the building.
This time around, Mr. Wolk was one of three bids the town received on the property. Last week selectmen rejected one of the bids outright because it was below the minimum asking price.
The other bid, submitted by Janet Hiebert and Wayne Grigull, was rejected because a property map submitted with the offer indicated an area including the sidewalk, which is owned by the town.
“The sidewalk is on town property so unfortunately this bid makes it contingent on buying the sidewalk, which we have no authority to sell without a town meeting vote,” town counsel Ronald H. Rappaport said. In his view, only Mr. Wolk’s bid was valid. The process of selling town property is subject to strict regulations, he said, and there can be no negotiations.
The town will pay a $75,000 broker’s fee.
“I’m really glad that we have one successful bidder. I’m really glad that the strategy of bringing the brokerage community into the process has been successful, because we have a successful bid I think in part because we did that,” selectman Arthur Smadback said. The board voted unanimously to accept Mr. Wolk’s bid.
“From what I understand these people were in there frequently and the interest was there,” selectmen chair Margaret Serpa said. “I would support that we sell this even with the fact that we are paying the [broker fee]. We are going to come clean on something that never should have been what it is to begin with . . . we’re going to come out of this paying off our bond and moving on.”
“This is a good day for North Water street,” selectman Michael Donaroma said.
Town administrator Pamela Dolby said the town sent out 39 requests for proposals and received three bids.
Mr. Wolk has three days to sign the purchase agreement and pay 10 per cent of the price, Mr. Rappaport said. The sale is slated to close in 30 days. Mr. Rappaport said that if the purchase does not go through, Mr. Wolk would lose a $10,000 deposit.
With the home comes a piece of Edgartown’s history. The house at 62 North Water street dates to 1792. It was owned by the Osborns, an Edgartown family with connections to the whaling industry. Caroline Osborn, born in 1823, married Frederick Warren and inherited the house. The house was owned by her family into the early 20th century, and later served as an annex to Colonial Inn, which was across the street.
Mr. Wolk has been coming to the Island for a number of summers, Mr. Joyce told the Gazette. He has always loved the north side of Edgartown and had been eyeing the Warren House for years.
“He’s anxious to get started on [renovations] and work with the historic district to really turn that back into a showcase home for himself and his family,” Mr. Joyce said. He said there are no immediate renovation plans, but Mr. Wolk is going to get started interviewing builders and architects.
“It’s going to be so great for North Water street,” Mr. Joyce said.