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Agora Development to Build Historically Inspired Modular Cottages at Village Hill Northampton

June 9, 2011

Kelsey Abbruzzese, MassDevelopment, 617-330-2086 & 617-448-9077 (cell)

Agora Homes and Development, LLC, a company specializing in high quality, smart growth development using energy-efficient modular homes, has signed an agreement with MassDevelopment to build four new, moderately priced cottages on Laurel Street at Village Hill Northampton. The four lots are located in an existing residential neighborhood adjacent to the South Campus of Village Hill. Agora expects to offer several home designs, including a three bedroom “farmhouse” and a three bedroom “bungalow.” The homes are all sensitively designed by Agora's architectural team to reflect the traditional and well-established architectural styles of Northampton.

“The Agora modular cottages represent the latest in market-rate affordable, sustainable and smart-growth housing designs to arrive at Village Hill Northampton,” said MassDevelopment Executive Vice President of Real Estate Richard Henderson. “Agora’s development adds a new option to the types of housing already available at the site, all of which incorporate green practices and New Urbanist principles important to homeowners locally and statewide.”

New Urbanism is a growing movement among planners, urban designers, architects, developers, public officials, and residents working to promote neighborhood-based development as an alternative to sprawl. The movement seeks to improve quality of life by reducing commuting times, increasing the supply of available and safe alternative transportation options, and preserving natural resources.

Agora’s founder and president, Toby Millman, has more than 15 years of experience in managing and leading urban redevelopment projects on the East Coast. Agora is currently completing a 29-unit modular, smart growth development in Ithaca, N.Y., adjacent to Cornell University.

“We are excited to be a part of the Village Hill community and to bring traditionally designed, yet sustainable, new cottages to Northampton,” said Toby Millman of Agora. “Given the attractive price point, these ‘right sized’ homes will appeal to a wide range of buyers who want to be close to all of the amenities of downtown Northampton.”

Village Hill Northampton is a master-planned community that combines commercial, R&D/light industrial, and residential uses with open space to support regional job creation, business development, and recreational opportunities. Officials from MassDevelopment, the project’s master developer, estimate that at full build-out Village Hill will support the creation or retention of up to 800 jobs.

Volz Clarke Associates, Inc., a manufacturer of high-end furniture and millwork, became Village Hill’s first commercial tenant in 2008 with the completion of a 20,000-square-foot office and manufacturing facility. Kollmorgen, a high technology optics/sensing and motion systems company, moved into its new 140,000-square-foot headquarters in March, retaining and creating a total of approximately 450 jobs.

Construction is completed or underway for 95 of the approximately 300 single-family homes, cottages, condominiums, townhomes, and apartments planned for Village Hill Northampton.

MassDevelopment, the state’s finance and development authority, works with businesses, financial institutions, and communities to stimulate economic growth across the Commonwealth. During FY2010, MassDevelopment financed or managed 238 projects in 104 communities across the state generating investment of nearly $1.4 billion in the Massachusetts economy.