With recent approval from the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, the owners of Phillips Hardware in Oak Bluffs plan to forge ahead with a new three-story building on Circuit avenue.

The commission last Thursday unanimously approved the project as a development of regional impact (DRI), on condition that the developers return for a modification review once they determine whether the upper stories will consist of apartments or hotel suites.

Original plans called for three apartments with a total of 12 bedrooms, but a town bylaw would limit the number of apartmentson. A revised plan, for the purpose of gaining approval, calls for eight hotel suites instead, although the owners hope the town bylaw will be amended next year, allowing them to build the apartments. In that case, the project will trigger a commission requirement for affordable housing mitigation. (The developers have offered to include one employee housing unit.)

Construction could begin as early as next fall.

Phillips Hardware would occupy the first floor, with a new 4,923-square-foot basement for storage. The building itself will mimic the 19th-century Oakwood Hotel, part of which still stands on the site. Architect Chuck Sullivan told the MVC that the retail portion could be occupied before the upper floors are completed.

The Oak Bluffs selectmen have approved the use of parking spots on Circuit avenue for staging.

Commissioners agreed that reviving the earlier Victorian style would be a major benefit of the project, despite complaints by the owners of the Arcade Building across the street, that a top-story apartment there will lose its view of Ocean Park.

“There is no right of a view over someone else’s property,” commissioner Fred Hancock said at the meeting. “The benefits highly outweigh any detriments,” he later added, strongly praising the project. “We need to do more mixed use projects in our downtown areas.”

The commission also approved a long-planned Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting (ARFF) building at the Martha’s Vineyard Airport. The former ARFF building was torn down in October. The new 14,674-square-foot building will be almost 50 per cent larger, with room for all of the airport’s firefighting and snow removal equipment, along with beds for periodic use by airport employees. Cedar shingles are planned for the exterior, in line with other airport buildings.

“Not only will it be modern and make us compliant with regulations, which we weren’t in the past, it will also give us easier, better access to the airfield so that we can have a quicker, safer response,” airport manager Ann Crook said Thursday.

The airport received an $8.3 million FAA grant this year to construct the building. Ms. Crook said FAA and state funding would cover 95 per cent of the cost, with airport revenue covering the rest. Airport commission chairman Myron Garfinkle said Thursday that the money was already in the bank. The airport expects to finish construction by September.

The commission unanimously approved the project, and later trudged through a written decision to finalize the review. A 20-day appeal period ends Nov. 23.