The Gannon and Benjamin Marine Railway has closed a deal to buy the Vineyard Haven waterfront property it rents, owners confirmed Thursday, marking the end of multi-year process to take ownership of the property and preserve a vital corner of the town’s working waterfront.
The purchase of .37-acre parcel at 30 Beach Road closed on Wednesday afternoon. The buyer is Tisbury Working Waterfront LLC, a group formed to purchase property that includes Gannon and Benjamin. The purchase price is $2.7 million, according to land records. The seller is an LLC registered to Leo P. DeSorcy 2nd. The property is one piece of the DeSorcy family’s 1.18-acre waterfront holdings property on Beach Road.
Reached by phone Thursday afternoon, boatyard co-owner Nat Benjamin confirmed the sale after a press release went out.
“We’re just so pleased and grateful to the community for the support and to the people who have invested in this enterprise,” Mr. Benjamin said. “We’re always thinking and trying to figure out how we can keep this wonderful Vineyard Haven waterfront working and active.”
The asking price for the parcel, which includes the Gannon and Benjamin workshop, dock and railway, as well as the office building currently leased to the Martha’s Vineyard Times newspaper, was $3 million.
The property is assessed at $1.5 million, according to Tisbury land records.
Founded by Mr. Benjamin and his partner Ross Gannon in 1980, the legendary wooden boatbuilding company has won international acclaim, and over the years has become a symbol of Vineyard Haven’s working waterfront.
The boatyard has rented its property from the DeSorcy family since the 1980s.
Gannon and Benjamin has been intent on purchasing the land since 2018, when the entire DeSorcy property first went on the market for $8 million.
A previous group effort that included Mr. Benjamin to purchase the entire property fell through.
In 2020, when the DeSorcy family re-listed the property as four separate parcels, the Tisbury Working Waterfront LLC was formed with the goal of buying the property. In January the project took a step forward when the boatyard signed a purchase and sale agreement to buy the property.
Mr. Benjamin said Thursday that the buyer group consists of eight investors, including G & B. He declined to name the other investors, but said the group includes a mix of Vineyard Haven residents, clients and some summer residents. “They’re all friends and clients of ours so it’s a nice family,” Mr. Benjamin said.
With the purchase complete, Mr. Benjamin said the company plans to give the property a facelift, including a series of maintenance projects on the MV Times building. He said the newspaper, which previously leased from the DeSorcy family, would be allowed to rent the building for another year, after which the company will reassess its plans for the space.
But when asked about larger plans, Mr. Benjamin said his focus was on the present.
“The boatyard is moving ahead as always, just building boats and doing restorations,” Mr. Benjamin said. “Now that we’re on our own, we want to continue the good relationships with the town and just keep things getting better and better down there.”
Turning reflective, he expounded on the boatyard’s mission of keeping the working waterfront and its community alive and well.
“It’s a wonderful family, just a great community of sailors, boatbuilders and artisans, the general public and customers,” Mr. Benjamin said. “We just want to keep everything moving along as best we can.”