After listening to emotional testimony from town residents on Wednesday, the Cottage City Historic District Commission (CCHDC) decided to continue a public hearing on the fate of the Old Variety Store in downtown Oak Bluffs.

The CCHDC’s purview deals exclusively with the aesthetics of proposed structures or structural changes in the historic district. It does not oversee the proposed use of those structures.

Real estate developer Joseph Moujabber purchased the historic store from the Peters family in 2017 for $700,000. Although he has not yet submitted a formal demolition proposal, plans put in front of the CCHDC suggest Mr. Moujabber wishes to tear down the existing structure and replace it with a two story commercial building.

The plans detail a new structure that will incorporate the gazebo at the north side of the building and retain much of the original building’s roof and support brackets, although Mr. Moujabber and his architect, Ethan McMorrow, said most of the existing building was not salvageable. The bottom floor of the new structure will be approximately 1,200 square feet, while the second floor apartment will measure 527 square feet and be set back from the abutting Flying Horses carousel.

Iconic store has seen better days. — Mark Alan Lovewell

According to Mr. Moujabber, the new structure will be about 24 feet high — taller than the Flying Horses — although he said the incline on Kennebec avenue accounts for the height difference between the structures.

Most residents who attended the hearing expressed verbal support for Mr. Moujabber’s plans, although they voiced a unanimous sentimentality for the Variety Store and cautioned against dramatic changes that would alter the sightlines and style of the block more broadly.

“I love this’s a work of art,” said resident Renee Balter. “It’s not just a building by itself, it’s the heart of downtown. It goes together with the Flying Horses and the bank...and to me that’s what makes it such a unique and wonderful building. My only objection would be, once you put that apartment on, it throws the whole block off in terms of the scale of the buildings.”

Funi Burdick, head of the Vineyard Preservation Trust which owns the Flying Horses, said she supported the proposed structure, including the second-floor apartment.

“I actually think the second floor looks good,” Ms. Burdick said. “It’s nicely set back. I think the architectural detail of the building is well done, so I am actually in support of this.”

Longtime Oak Bluffs resident and former owner of The Ritz on Circuit avenue, Herbert Combra, waxed nostalgic about “the best orange crush soda he ever had,” even though he, too, supported Mr. Moujabber’s plans.

“Everything changes,” he said. “This building here, I’m surprised it’s still up. It’s rotten. There’s no foundation. One of these days it’s going to go...I really support this project because something has to be done with that corner.”

Former member of the CCHDC, David Wilson, said he “breathed a deep sigh of relief” when he saw the new plans.

“It’s a handsome design,” he said.

Architect Doug Ulwick was one of the few who expressed misgivings about the design.

“I’m concerned because it sounds like it’s going to be torn down, and something else is going to be put back in its place that is going to approximate the look of it,” Mr. Ulwick said. “To me, that’s the antithesis of preservation. That’s Disney.”

Commissioner Barbara Baskin wanted a more “palatable” and “shallow” roofline for the building that didn’t detract from the centrality of the Flying Horses.

“For me, the second floor has no place in this construction,” Ms. Baskin said. Commissioner Denby Olcott agreed.

Other commissioners liked the plan, and felt that it deserved further consideration.

“I don’t have a problem if the building is removed, as long as it is put back with something as detailed as this one,” commissioner Matt Cramer said.

The commissioners ultimately decided to continue the hearing until Feb. 13 at 5 p.m. In the interim, they asked for Mr. Moujabber to put up guide-posts to approximate the height of the new structure, and requested additional information about lighting plans and sign conservation.

“I would like the opportunity to get out of my car and see how this will impact the Flying Horses and other viewscapes as well,” chairman Phil Regan said.