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Tread lightly on the earth, live healthy at Grow Community

When we set out to design the most sustainable, future-friendly community possible, we knew we were building more than homes. We were creating a whole new way of living, and a model for the world.

We started with the principles of One Planet Living – promoting sustainable, healthy lifestyles through low-impact construction and high-quality materials. Culture, community, equity and economy were our guiding principles, health and happiness our end product.

salal-2We haven’t backed down from the challenge. Homes in our first two neighborhoods, the Village and the Grove, have earned national and international acclaim for their thoughtful design and construction. Each neighborhood is designed around vegetable gardens, fruit groves or open spaces, with native plants and vegetation creating natural and inviting places for children and adults to enjoy.

Grow offers a “five minute lifestyle” where residents can walk/ride/roll to local amenities and urban attractions in Winslow town center, reducing dependency on the automobile. Spacious designs offer room for families, while single-level living options mean owners can age in place in security and comfort.

We’re all about bringing people together – a new community center will provide a space for classes, gatherings and community events, bringing residents and neighbors together throughout the seasons.

Along the way, Grow has become the largest planned solar community in Washington state – with more clean energy-producing rooftop PV systems being added all the time.

As we enter our third and final phase, the Park neighborhood, we’re proud of what we’ve achieved. A healthy community of satisfied residents and, we believe, an inspiration that others can follow for forward-thinking, sustainable urban design.

Visit Grow Community today, and let us share it with you – a new way of living, at one with the future and the world.

Summer draws us to the Park

You can’t say Grow without Community – and our next phase, the Park, puts an exclamation point on it!

Our planned Community Center (to be constructed at the north end of the Park) is now under review by the city, and we’re counting on input from the public as we move the project forward. Watch for more news about the center and your chance to help us shape what is sure to be a great amenity.

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Elsewhere in the Park, midsummer finds foundations for the Sage and Lilac buildings are complete, with framing to begin next week. We expect framing for both structures to go up quickly, as we’re “panelizing” the construction to reduce onsite waste.

The Trillium multifamily building, which will anchor the south end of the grounds, is going through final designs and should be in for city review soon.

Meanwhile our second phase, the Grove, begins to wind down with ongoing move-ins and final wrap-up set for fall.

Grow recently “went live” on the Multiple Listing Service through Windermere, and demand is hot! Several homes went under contract within hours, and a flurry of new inquiries rolled in from prospective buyers.

Join them! Stop by the Grow Community model unit today, and see the fine new homes are coming online by the week.

Three flavors of multifamily solar at Grow Community

Condos, apartments, townhomes – three flavors of multifamily construction, each with its own challenges for reaping the power, and financial benefits, of solar investment.

Asani development company is tackling all three at once at Grow Community.

On buildings dubbed the Salal, the Juniper and the Elan, now complete in the project’s expansive second phase, solar arrays will benefit both homebuyers and renters alike.

One roof apiece, with many beneficiaries beneath.

“Our investors said, ‘let’s go for it,'” said Greg Lotakis, Asani president and Grow Community project manager. “Without their desire to be the largest solar community in Washington, and wanting to plant the solar flag in the ground, we wouldn’t be doing this. Without their support, it wouldn’t be possible.”
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The Salal condominiums, with 12 units spread over three stories, is effectively a “community solar” project on a rooftop. Solar was included in the purchase price – no option – and incentives from the State of Washington will be apportioned equally among condominium owners, with each owning a one-twelfth interest in the array.

Asani worked with state officials and the local utility provider to craft a program that satisfies the complicated provisions of Washington law.

The opening was a provision allowing common use of single roof for solar in multifamily buildings. Asani banked on prospective buyers seeing shared solar as a good investment as they bought their condo units, one that promised annual paybacks while lowering operational costs of their building through solar harvest.

Solar was designed into the Salal building. A single production meter monitors total system output, while 12 sub-meters track consumption in individual units for utility billing.

Buyers are rolling the cost of solar, about $15,000 per unit, into their mortgages to take advantage of low interest rates at the time of purchase.

“We wanted it very clean and divisible by all the owners,” Lotakis said. “I think it would be pretty difficult for six, 10, 12 people to come together and agree upon how the system would work after the fact. This gave us a chance to just deliver it.”

Lotakis expects the 44kW array to produce about $1,500 in incentives per unit annually – cumulatively much higher than the state’s $5,000 cap on incentives for a single-family residence.

Next door at the 12-unit Juniper apartment building, the 44kW rooftop array is similar but the equation is different. Renters will enjoy the benefits of solar production through net-metering, but not the annual state solar rebate. That will go to the building’s single owner, and will max out at the state’s $5,000 cap.

The two-story Elan townhomes presented the most straightforward challenge. Individual 6-9kW solar packages are offered for each section of the common roof. No modules will cross the “virtual lot lines,” making each system self-contained within the owner’s patch of rooftop. Three systems have been installed so far.

Growing neighborhood solar

From project inception, Asani set out to build the most environmentally friendly development possible.

Relentless sourcing of renewable materials and low-impact fixtures, and close connection to the island’s town center, have positioned Grow Community in the marketplace for healthy lifestyle-conscious buyers.

The project’s first phase is noted for its shared pea-patch gardens and winding footpaths through close-set homes. The second and third phases are oriented around a woodland grove and open greenway.

The project has earned recognition in national magazines and won awards from local and national homebuilder associations. It is only the second planned community in North America to be certified under the One Planet Living standards.

Grow’s first phase of 23 detached units sold out immediately, and every homeowner chose to add the solar package.
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Asani has also showcased Made In Washington components to support the state’s solar industry.

Modules at the Salal are by Itek Energy of Bellingham, while the Juniper and Elan arrays include APsystems microinverters manufactured and distributed by Blue Frog Solar of Poulsbo.

Using a mix of in-state and out-of-state components allows Asani to achieve different price points for buyers while optimizing local incentives where possible.

Lotakis cautions that Grow Community’s multifamily solar program relies on particularities in Washington law. Multifamily programs elsewhere would face their own challenges, although he believes Grow offers a useful model for developers nationwide to consider.

With the Salal building only recently certified for occupancy, new residents have no comparative data on their energy savings. But the solar component was attractive, as it has been to buyers throughout the three-neighborhood, 142-home project due to be completed in late 2017.

“Solar was a factor,” one new resident said, “along with a development that encourages a sense of community.”

Between the federal tax credit and annual rebates from the state, Lotakis said, owners buying into the Salal condominiums could have their share of the common array paid off within five years.

“And because they’ve rolled the cost of solar into their mortgage, they don’t really see it,” he said.
“Those production checks will be like a dividend.”

The Grove is wrapping up, now on to the Park

Summer finds us buttoning up – that is, putting the finishing touches on Grow Community’s second neighborhood, the Grove.

Setting the pace is the Juniper at the north end of the grounds. New residents are now moving in, and the rooftop solar system is online and producing energy to offset the building’s needs. The largest planned solar community in Washington state keeps raising the bar!

The Tsuga now has its roof, with siding following in short order. Before July ends the building will look finished from the outside as work turns inward, with completion and move-in dates set for fall.
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The Woodland Homes at the south end of the Grove are nearing completion and should be finished by August. All of our buyers to date are adding solar, and you could be next – one home remains available, with an expansive 400 sf. outdoor deck among its many fine features and appointments.

And if you’ve not visited the Grove lately, you’ve missed the generous plantings that give this neighborhood its name. Landscape touchup is slated for the end of summer as the swath of young trees and shrubs begin to settle in for the cooler months.

Attention now turns to our third and final neighborhood, the Park. Work has commenced on the Sage and Lilac, where foundations are underway and should be completed by the end of this month – framing to follow, and pre-sales to be announced soon as well.

Intrigued? Why wait! Comfortable and inviting units are still available for purchase throughout the Grove. Three-bedroom homes are available for move-in today, with more 2-bedroom units coming online this fall.

Rentals, too: 2- and 3-bedroom units in the Juniper are ready immediate move-in. Visit Grow Community and see our model home today!

Très bien! French programme Écho-Logis visits Grow Community for television feature

A film crew from the French production house TV Only visited Grow Community last week, shooting a half-hour feature for the magazine show Écho-Logis.

camera2The program features the best examples of sustainable architecture and construction around the globe – so naturally they found their way to Bainbridge Island and Grow.

“We were looking for the greenest places in the U.S.,” says Anthony Da Silva, TV Only journaliste, who admits that while he and the producers had scouted out Grow Community online and were confident it would make a good subject, they were still startled by what they found.

“When we arrived, we were really surprised that it was much more beautiful than the pictures we saw on the web,” Da Silva says, praising Grow for building not just eco-friendly homes but also a whole simpler, low-impact lifestyle.

“It’s not only putting solar panels up and respecting the landscape where you put your house,” he says. “It’s also a feeling. For me, it’s a system, a way to work and to build and to live.”

The four-man production team spent four days on the island after filming an eco-friendly home in Los Angeles the previous week.

interview1Da Silva interviewed Jonathan Davis, architect of Grow Community’s phase one, the Village, along with project manager Greg Lotakis and various residents.

Interviews were conducted inside homes and around the Grow Community grounds and shared P-patch gardens.

A drone-mounted camera buzzed around the neighborhood throughout, zooming down pathways before soaring skyward for dramatic aerial shots of Grow’s solar energy-producing rooftops.

“It was an honor to have the Écho-Logis film crew here,” Lotakis says. “To be able to share a bit of the vision, and have the community’s voice as part of the show, was wonderful. It was a great reminder of how much has been done here that can inspire other communities.”

Écho-Logis presents “beautiful and innovative green projects all around the world by featuring the people who have conceived it, those who live in and interact with it,” producers say, while showing the environmental advantages that come with “an ethical way of building.”

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After returning to France, the team will decamp for Romania and their next feature: a woodland lodge replete with solar power and a system for recycling water.

Now in its fourth season, the Écho-Logis program can be seen on France’s TV5Monde network, available in more than 200 countries.

The Grow Community feature is expected to run late this year as part of the current 40-episode run.

Previous Écho-Logis episodes can be viewed online here.

Grow a paragon of the ‘New Urbanism,’ Professional Builder magazine says

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 12.19.37 PMPublic engagement, eco-friendly designs, affordable options, and diversity of home styles and offerings are hallmarks of the New Urbanism, the most significant planning movement of recent times.

Grow Community is a paragon of this forward-thinking ethos, Professional Builder magazine says in its new issue.

In the article “The Seaside Effect” (a nod to the first New Urbanist community, Seaside, built in Florida in 1980), Pro Builder fetes Grow for such enlightened features as shared pea-patch gardens, energy-efficient construction and rooftop solar power.

Proximity to Winslow town center – just a 5-minute walk from the heart of the neighborhood – allowed project designers and now residents to move beyond the demands of an automobile-centric lifestyle, toward healthier and more sustainable alternatives.

“We didn’t need to provide anything other than a residential fabric,” Jonathan Davis, Grow’s phase 1 architect, tells the magazine.

Read more about how Grow Community measures up to New Urbanist principles in Professional Builder’s July 2015 edition here – see pages 30-35.

Grow featured in NW design magazine

Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 10.03.30 AMGrow Community and first-phase architect Jonathan Davis are featured in the new edition of Gray magazine.

In an article titled “Community Builders,” the magazine touts Grow for fostering “next-level neighborliness” through innovative layout and design.

It all starts with an unsung organizing element: the meandering path that winds around through the site, promoting serendipitous meetings between neighbors as they move about among Grow’s “micro-hoods” and shared gardens.

“The idea is that coming and going from your house, you’ll bump into a neighbor sitting on the porch or out front gardening, and you’ll build personal relationships,” Davis says. “We oriented things to encourage interaction between residents.”

Gray bills itself “The Design Magazine for the Pacific Northwest.” The May 2015 edition is on finer newsstands now, or you can find the story at www.graymag.com page 40.

Conscious Company finds the future at Grow

Conscious Company Magazine, a new journal focusing on innovation and sustainability, recently paid a call on Grow Community to get the scoop on our über-intentional neighborhood.

logo“It’s an inspiring model of community development and one that we hope will begin to scale throughout the rest of the country,” writes Maren Keeley, whose magazine bills itself as “The Future of Business as Usual.”

Maren sat down with Greg Lotakis, our project manager, for a great interview that highlights the best of what Grow has to offer. Here’s an excerpt:

MK: What aspect of this community are you most proud of?

GL: Ultimately, all the “cool” around sustainability means nothing without community. Really, Grow Community Bainbridge is about creating opportunities for residents to support each other in the pursuit of One Planet Living. Being able to walk across your path and connect with your neighbor over a glass of wine, share time in the garden with your grandchild, or watch kids and dogs play in the open space at the end of a day makes Grow special. It all comes back to health and happiness.

MK: Do you feel this idea can scale and be brought to other communities in the U.S.?

GL: We truly hope so. There are so many great builders and innovators in green building that now it’s time to be thinking large-scale. Too many neighborhoods have been developed for one particular moment in our lives, lack energy efficiency, or allow vehicles to disconnect us from one another.

You can read the whole interview with Greg Lotakis here.

Thanks to Maren Keeley and the new Conscious Company Magazine for the fantastic coverage.

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January 2015 Construction Update

The weather has certainly been mixed, but Grow Community construction continues apace. Crews have completed the majority of the excavation work and have now started forming and pouring footings and foundation walls for the garage for the Grove, our next neighborhood.

While progress may not always be apparent from street level, we are using a “UAV” – an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, otherwise known as a “drone” – to keep a visual record of the construction process.
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In the lower right corner of the accompanying aerial photo, you can see a series of white structures. This is actually a small part of the foundation and garage for a building in the Park, Grow’s third and final neighborhood.

This section of the last phase had to be built first in order to support the utilities and structures that will be uphill in the Grove. Construction sequencing can present challenges, but we always seem to figure out the right solutions!

The crews have also started in on the portion of the garage under the Salal building, and will march around to the northwest corner and then head south to form and pour the Elan townhome building next.

While the garage is being completed, the framing will start in earnest, so the two tasks – concrete foundations and framing – will be taking place at the same time.

We’ll be up out of the ground this Spring!