The Nantucket Land Bank is planning to demolish a waterfront home on East Creek Road that was part of a $4.8 million property acquisition completed last year.
The demolition of the 3,800-square-foot home overlooking Nantucket Harbor and The Creeks will clear the way for an accessible viewing deck and refurbished public dock at the property, which sits in front of the Our Island Home nursing facility.
Last week the Land Bank secured a unanimous vote in favor of the demolition from the Historic District Commission.
The single-family dwelling on the property was built in 1983. Around 2020, the previous owners started a significant renovation project, essentially gutting the entire building, according to architectural designer Ben Normand, who presented the demolition application to the HDC on behalf of the Land Bank. But before the renovation project was completed, the owners opted instead to sell the property to the Land Bank, a deal which was completed in January 2022.
"The Land Bank has now been working on a project to open up this space for public access," Normand said. "The building has been empty and gutted for about three years. It's falling into disrepair."
Both Normand and Land Bank executive director Jesse Bell emphasized that the structure was built within the 25-foot buffer zone of a wetland and that it would never have been permitted to be constructed in that area today.
"The interior of the house is completely demolished, so it’s just a shell of a building," Bell said in a message to the Current. "It’s also located in the 25-foot buffer zone of two wetland resource areas (would never have been permitted today). The accessible viewing deck and refurbished public dock are still on the docket, but there may still be some tweaks to the design. Also, we are currently in the process of prioritizing projects so I can’t confirm the timeline for this yet. Either way, it’s at least two years out given local and state permitting requirements."
In reviewing the demolition application, the members of the HDC raised questions about whether the structure could be moved rather than demolished, and if not, whether pieces of it could be salvaged for reuse instead of going to the landfill.
"Moving it is really not feasible at all," Normand said. "It's in a wetland, and the Conservation Commission does not want heavy machinery down there to move it out. The road it needs to come out of is quite steep and not conducive to moving a house...To move one that's gutted and been sitting in the harbor for a number of years unkept is a hard sell from a financial perspective."
The HDC members emphasized that regardless of those factors, the structure would still need to be advertised as available to move.
"Could we put it on a barge and make a houseboat?" HDC member Val Oliver joked.
Nantucket municipal housing director Tucker Holland also weighed in at the meeting to say "I don't think it's probably suitable for housing."