Cohousing Community Breaks Ground at Village Hill Northampton
September 7, 2018 : Daily Hampshire Gazette, by Luis Fieldman
|Richard Henderson, who is the executive vice president of real estate for MassDevelopment, speaks during a groundbreaking ceremony for Village Hill Cohousing, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS|
NORTHAMPTON — Future residents of a cohousing community gathered to celebrate a momentous occasion on Wednesday afternoon: the groundbreaking at the site that will become Village Hill Cohousing.
Among them were a married couple from Amherst, Paddy Lane and David Grodsky, who are members of the 6-acre cohousing complex that will be developed by Sunwood Builders of Amherst. Developers said the project, located on the corner of Olander Drive and Ford Crossing at Village Hill Northampton, is expected to be completed in the next two years and the first phase of construction will begin soon.
A cohousing development involves people living around a common building with shared open space and neighbors collaboratively managing common areas, according to the Cohousing Association of the United States.
Getting to know the Village Hill neighborhood only reinforced Lane and Grodsky’s desire to live in a cohousing community, they said.
“It looked like a good way to live,” Grodsky said. The Village Hill neighborhood reminded him of his youth when he lived in Brooklyn and the sense of fellowship among neighbors.
Lane said she is looking forward to eating at the 4,000-square-foot common house that will be built at the center of the complex, which will include community gathering spaces, dining and cooking facilities, and an outdoor patio.
With shovels in hand, Mayor David Narkewicz, Richard Henderson of MassDevelopment, co-housing architect Laura Fitch, and Shaul Perry, owner of Sunwood Builders, dug into a pile of dirt and broke ground for a cohousing complex that will include 28 units of single-family and duplex style homes.
All buildings on the complex will be net-zero, meaning that the total amount of energy used by the building is roughly equal to the amount of renewable energy created on-site.
The road to construction was not without its detours and delays, according to architect Mary Kraus. The original project, permitted in 2015, fell through after developer Energy Positive Homes LLC went bankrupt.
“Cohousing is about a neighborhood were people are supportive of each other and have a real sense of community together,” Kraus said.
She hosted a workshop at the project’s inception in 2014 to find out what values potential Village Hill members held for the neighborhood as a basis for the cohousing community.
“Kindness, connection, integrity, generosity,” were just a few of them, Kraus said. “These are exactly the kind of values that we can build on.”
The project will cost “well over” $10 million, Perry said, and will be constructed over four phases. After the clearing of trees and initial site work, foundations will be poured in, and by the fall of 2019, he expects the common house to be built.
Home prices range from $293,000 to $496,000 and there are only 20 units left.
“This is second to none,” Perry said.