Two houses in Phase II of Herring Cove Village. [2016, Dunlap]
Herring Cove Village Condominium (Phase II, Units 12 to 17). The seeds of this 17-unit cluster were sown in the 1990s, with the growth of Provincetown as a second-home market and the death of Hawthorne Bissell — the founder and proprietor of the red-clay tennis courts and clubhouse that once occupied these four acres.
Bissell’s stepson Jon C. Van Rider sold the property in 2006 for $1.75 million to an entity called WK Red Clay L.L.C. of Boston — in actuality, James E. Watkins and David T. Krohn. Watkins, who was from St. Louis, studied electrical engineering at the University of Missouri-Rolla (now the Missouri University of Science and Technology). In 2005, he purchased 6 Nickerson Street, a Long Point floater with the incongruous touch of a boldly projecting semicircular bay window of more than 100 small lights.
Krohn received a bachelor’s degree in business finance from Northeastern University. He worked as the general manager of Rafanelli Events in Boston, headed by Bryan Rafanelli (who transformed Fire Station No. 1 at 117 Commercial Street into a private home). Krohn was a sales executive at Akibia, Jobster, Monster, and Skyword. He is better known at the time of this writing as the developer of the Bayberry Hollow Farm project on West Vine Street.
Watkins and Krohn unveiled their plans in the spring of 2007. They sought to remove one of the five tennis courts, demolish two front cottages on the property, and construct 17 new condominium units known as Herring Cove Village. As a matter of density, it would represent an increase of nine residential units, since the two cottages had eight apartments between them.
Red and green shapes show the original buildings on the site: two cottages close to Bradford Street Extension, the tennis clubhouse in the center, and the five courts. The gray buildings are Phase I and Phase II of Herring Cove Village.
Phase I took up the western part of the acreage, right off Bradford. It accounted for 11 units. These were divided among eight buildings with ample front porches, each topped by a distinctive widow’s-walk cupola. The buildings were set in a staggered, seemingly random pattern along a private drive leading to a rotary. Though the area was zoned for single-family homes, rather than multifamily units, the prior Town approval of the eight apartments in two cottages allowed WK Red Clay to apply for an extension of an existing non-conforming use.1 Permission was granted for the project by the Town on condition that three units be affordable. The developers offered the units as “community housing,” defined by Massachusetts law as “low- and moderate-income housing for individuals and families, including low- or moderate-income senior housing.”2
Sales began in 2009, in the wake of the greatest financial catastrophe since the Great Depression. “The first units went on the market during one of the worst housing downturns in history,” Krohn told the Conservation Commission in 2010. “As a result, the prices we were able to sell the units at were much less than expected.” Apart from the “community housing” units, only three qualified sales were recorded at Herring Cove Village in 2009. Two more units had been sold by the time the developers appeared before the commission in February 2010, seeking a substantial revision in plans for the eastern portion of the property, where the Bissell tennis courts had been constructed more than 60 years earlier.
Phase II houses being constructed on the old tennis courts. [2011, Dunlap]
Maintaining a public tennis club was a money-losing proposition, the developers told the commission. Membership had dropped 60 percent since 2007. They proposed removing three tennis courts and replacing them with a salt-water swimming pool and 7,350 square feet of green space. More significantly, they sought to change the housing stock from six units in four buildings to six single-family houses, three of which would break into a 50-foot barrier protecting adjacent wetlands.
Watkins and Krohn tried to persuade the commission that the changes amounted merely to an amendment of the original plan, hoping to avoid the regulatory hurdles — and the opposition of abutters like Alix Ritchie — if the plans were considered de novo. But the commission was having none of it. “There is no way these are minor changes,” Dennis Minsky, the commission chairman, told the applicants in February 2010. “And to have 50 percent of the buildings in a buffer zone is problematic.”3
They tried again, by shifting the houses out of the 50-foot buffer zone. Krohn told the commission in April 2010 that as a result of changes to Phase II, “there will be a reduction in the number of people and cars coming to the site, a reduction of impervious surfaces on the site because of a smaller parking area, and a reduction in fencing,” according to minutes of the meeting.4 Abutters objected. A lawyer representing Ritchie and others said that construction within the area of three of the tennis courts was prohibited by deed restriction and that a swimming pool amounted to a new structure under the Zoning By-Law.
The commission unanimously rejected the revised plan. “The changes weren’t minor,” Dennis Minsky, the chairman, said. “It was a change of scope, a change of purpose. It was too big.”5
Phase II of Herring Cove Village. [2016, Dunlap]
Town officials at last gave their approval in December 2010 to a plan that called for constructing two of the houses in the “footprint” of three courts, leaving the two furthermost courts for the use of condo residents as a private club. Lester J. Murphy, a lawyer for the developers, testified that “privatizing the two tennis courts will allow the struggling Provincetown Tennis Club in the East End of town to increase their business,” according to the minutes.6 The Zoning Board of Appeals gave its sign-off, 5 to 0.7
The first of the single-family homes in Phase II was sold in late 2013 for $1.075 million. The remainder were all sold by October 2014, at prices from $795,000 to $1.2 million. There are three Provincetown residents among the owners, one resident of Charlestown, one resident of Orlando, and one resident of San Diego.
21 Bradford Street Extension on the Town Map, showing property lines.
Also at this address
1 “16-Condo Proposal for Bissell Property,” by Pru Sowers, Provincetown Banner, 5 April 2007.
2 General Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Title VII, Chapter 44b, Section 2.
3 “Tennis Development Worries Provincetown ConCom,” by Pru Sowers, Provincetown Banner, 10 February 2010.
4 Town of Provincetown Conservation Commission, 27 April 2010.
5 “Red Clay Expansion Denied,” by Pru Sowers, Provincetown Banner, 5 May 2010.
6 Town of Provincetown Zoning Board of Appeals, 2 December 2010.
7 “Red Clay Homes Get Go-Ahead in Provincetown,” by Pru Sowers, Provincetown Banner, 13 December 2010.
¶ Last updated on 9 April 2022.