More than a year after the Planning Board approved Blue Flag Partners' plan to resurrect the historic Woodbox on Fair Street, the Boston-based real estate firm has finally filed the decision with Nantucket's town clerk Nancy Holmes.
Facing a Nov. 30th deadline to file the decision, Planning & Land Use Services staff confirmed Tuesday that Blue Flag had indeed done so. The time-stamped document shows it was filed with the town clerk at 1:14 p.m. last Thursday afternoon.
Since earning the endorsement of the Planning Board in August 2022, the deadline to file the decision with the town clerk had been extended several times. The delay had prompted questions from attorney Arthur Reade, who represents a group of neighbors who strenuously objected to Blue Flag's original proposal for the Woodbox.
“We have heard absolutely nothing and we’re wondering very much ourselves - what’s going on?” Reade said in late October. “There’s been no activity, we’ve heard nothing, and they’ve not been in touch with us.”
Blue Flag representatives have declined to comment about the plans for the Woodbox.
While Blue Flag has forged ahead with a number of its Nantucket acquisition projects - including the Faraway Nantucket hotel on Centre Street, the reopening of The Pearl and The Boarding House restaurants on Federal Street, its boutique hotel property “Blue Iris” on Hussey Street, its renovations of The Beachside hotel, and its residential developments off Hawthorne and Cannonbury lanes - the Woodbox has remained untouched.
In April 2021, Blue Flag Partners purchased the Woodbox property at 27-29 Fair Street as part of a $13.3 million deal to acquire the Summer House’s downtown lodging properties. In November of that year, Blue Flag unveiled its initial proposal for the property which immediately came under sharp criticism from neighbors of the Woodbox. In the ensuing nine months, Blue Flag navigated a series of contentious public hearings before the Planning Board in which neighbors of the historic inn argued vehemently to reduce the scale and concept. The final compromise included a provision to make the Woodbox’s restaurant private - available only to guests - which the Planning Board reluctantly endorsed despite deep reservations by its members.
Under the terms of the agreement that the Planning Board approved in August 2022, the Woodbox is permitted to reopen under the following parameters:
- 17 guest rooms available across both properties (27 & 29 Fair Street)
- Total hotel occupancy: 34 guests
- All buildings renovated with fire suppression systems
- Restaurant for sole use of guests; hours 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
- Restaurant occupancy: 34
- No bar or outdoor seating
- No smoking policy
- No exterior changes except minor maintenance
The Woodbox is one of the oldest and most historic structures on Nantucket, dating back to 1709 – making it just slightly younger than the Oldest House. But the building had fallen into disrepair in recent years, and in 2019 it was condemned by the Health Department as unfit for human habitation.