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Incentives offered to build green, affordable housing – KITSAP BIZ JOURNAL

September 6, 2013 @ 11:11am | Tim Kelly ~ KPBJ Editor

The aim of the Housing Design Demonstration Project on Bainbridge Island was to create incentives for developers to build subdivisions that offer green and/or affordable housing. Four projects taking advantage of incentives such as “bonus density” offered by the ordinance are in different stages of development. Ferncliff Village has completed 24 homes that are now mostly occupied, and the first homeowners are moving into the GROW Community, which will be the largest of the four, as it works toward completion of its first phase.

Ferncliff Village
Meanwhile, the HDDP, which was adopted in 2009, is set to expire at the end of this year, but a committee has been working on revisions that will be presented soon to the City Council, and a reworked ordinance could be extended for a few more years or made permanent.
“The HDDP’s intent is to allow for clustered housing and preserving open spaces,” said Mark Blatter, executive director of the nonprofit Housing Resources Board, which developed Ferncliff Village.

Community land trust
Ferncliff’s first phase showcases that concept, with the two dozen cottage-style houses on small lots, with a community garden and an open grassy area in the center of the development. Besides being shared recreational space for residents, the grassy area also handles stormwater runoff.

The six-acre site — off Ferncliff Avenue half a mile north of Winslow Way — was donated to the Housing Resources Board by former City Council member Lois Curtis. The HRB developed Ferncliff as a community land trust, which means the nonprofit builds and sells the houses but retains ownership of the land, with homeowners paying a low-cost, long-term land lease.

“That’s part of the way we make it work as affordable housing,” Blatter said.

The two — and three-bedroom houses range from 846 to 1,138 square feet, and are priced from $195,000 to $220,000. The Ferncliff Village website says the home prices are more than $50,000 below market value. Blatter said qualified buyers are those with 80 percent to 120 percent of the area median income in King County, and additional subsidies are available for potential Ferncliff homebuyers with incomes below that range.

It’s the only one of the four HDDP developments that meets the affordability goal of the ordinance.

Charlie Wenzlau, a local architect who is Housing Resources Board chairman and also helped develop the HDDP for the city, explained that the ordinance has development standards structured in tiers on either a green building track or an affordability track, though they’re not mutually exclusive. “When you go with the affordability track, the green building requirements are still there but not as onerous,” he said.

So even though Ferncliff put more emphasis on providing affordable homes, Blatter said the houses also include various energy-efficiency elements such as ductless heat pumps, Energy Star appliances and triple-glazed windows.

“We think these houses are going to live comfortably and large, even though they are fairly compact,” Blatter said.

Architect Jonathan Davis designed the first phase of GROW Community and is buying a house there.Architect Jonathan Davis designed the first phase of GROW Community and is buying a house there.

Changes at GROW
The GROW Community, located at the corner of Wyatt Way and Grow Avenue just a couple blocks from downtown Winslow, is on the green track and has incorporated more extensive sustainability measures, such as rooftop solar panels and a charging station for a shared electric vehicle available for residents to use.

growcarJonathan Davis, the architect who designed the first phase being built on three acres of the eight-acre GROW site, worked with developer Asani to create a project meeting One Planet Community standards of sustainability. BioRegional, the global sustainability organization that founded the One Planet Living program, announced GROW’s endorsement at last year’s Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.

The community has a charging station for an electric vehicle that’s available for residents to use.The community has a charging station for an electric vehicle that’s available for residents to use.“We had the land and knew we had to do something interesting with it,” Asani president Marja Preston said. “We came up with this concept for a One Planet intentional community. The HDDP ordinance the city had fit very well with that.”

The GROW Community’s first phase will have 44 housing units, with 24 free-standing single-family homes or duplexes that are currently under construction, plus two buildings each with 10 apartments to rent. A park/play area space will be at the high side of the site near the Wyatt Avenue corner.

Only three houses had residents in August, but Preston said builder PHC Construction is finishing about three each month, and should have all of them done early next year. She and Davis are both buying houses in Phase I.

“Our intent is to create a tight-knit community,” the British-born Davis said. “We created a place for that to happen. We have the potential for community here.”

As for the HDDP, he said it’s “a brilliant ordinance” and “what it allowed us to do that’s most beneficial, is create fee-simple lots for the homes,” so they could be sold as single-family houses instead of condominiums, for which it’s harder to get construction financing.

“Our density is no higher than what could have been built here” as apartments and condos, Davis noted.

While he’ll soon be living in the community, Davis won’t be as involved as the second phase at GROW starts to take shape next year. Asani decided to rework the types of housing and the site plan for the other five acres, and held a community meeting this summer to explain the changes.

Instead of homes built mostly on small but separate lots, many of the new units will be in rows of townhouses on the sides of a large central plaza where a community center will be built.

Davis isn’t critical of the developer’s changes, although he said “I think Phase 1 and Phase 2 will be two very different communities, with a different feel to them, and I think different population types.”

He also said that “supposedly what they’re proposing will be more profitable.”

Preston said the rowhouse-style arrangement was adopted in Phase 2 “so we could make better use of the space, to have more usable public open space.”

There will also be more garden space, she said, and a wider variety of unit types and sizes, including single-level homes that will meet the needs of people interested in an aging-in-place design.

There will be 87 units in Phase 2, the same as in the original design, and the redesigned project will still meet HDDP criteria.

To draw up the new Phase 2 plan, GROW worked with Jim Cutler, a renowned architect whose office is on Eagle Harbor but whose work for much of his career has been on projects in distant places.

“For a number of years I eschewed doing any work on Bainbridge Island,” Cutler said. “The only thing we’ve done was Grace Church.”

The builder he worked with a decade ago on the distinctive church with its high walls of windows was Marty Sievertson, president of Asani partner PHC Construction that’s building the homes at GROW. He suggested bringing in Cutler, who taught a University of Oregon 2012 summer program in Portland focused on environmental stewardship through design.

Cutler said the challenge at GROW was “I had to generate a site plan that fulfills all the requirements for family, and for community.”

With a five-acre site to work with, he wondered, “would it be possible to leave three acres open and still fit 87 houses?”

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Grow Community homes are 5-Star Built Green!


We are very excited to announce that Grow Community homes have achieved 5-Star Built Green status, the highest rating for Built Green certification. Built Green is designed to help homebuyers find quality, affordable homes that offer opportunities to protect the health of their families and the Northwest environment. This is a great step forward in our efforts to create cost-effective, energy efficient One Planet homes on the cutting-edge of today’s sustainable development practices.

Click here to read Built Green’s case study on Grow Community.

NW Green Home Tour



NW Green Home Tour

Saturday, April 27th 2013, 11am-5pm
Grow Model Homes  |  428 Grow Avenue NW, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110

Come visit our Built Green 5-Star Homes on April 27th! Grow Community will be one of the stops on the NW Green Home Tour. Co-produced by Northwest Eco Building Guild Seattle Chapter and Built Green this tour is a FREE spring event. This will be the 3rd Annual NW Green Home Tour for Seattle, Bainbridge Island + Eastside.


To learn more about the tour go to the NW Eco Building Guild website.


Growing A Concept

The concept for Grow Community began with a question:  If you could imagine the ideal place to live, what would it be like?  We began to answer this question as we talked with friends and colleagues.  But the idea for Grow really took shape when we reached out to the wider community and challenged people to think about how a neighborhood could be intentionally designed to improve their quality of life.

Over the last two years we have created a vision of a neighborhood where people of all generations and a diversity of economic means can live mindful of their impact on the planet.   An intentional community where environmental, economic and social sustainability are equally valued and where all people can focus on creating abundance, in their relationships to others, to nature and to the community.

This vision is only just the beginning.  We have designed a site plan for the first phase of the community and built three model homes to invite people to learn about the project, about the community concept and the sustainability goals that we have adopted through the One Planet Living program.  These homes are prototypes, representing the various living opportunities that we plan to build throughout the project.  We encourage you to stop by, walk through the community garden, experience the homes and tell us what you think.

Over the last three weeks we have had more than 850 visitors and we have learned an incredible amount of information, about the homes, the community design, the community programs.  We are already incorporating this feedback in to the final house designs and will continue to improve the plans as we learn more from our visitors.

We are now getting ready to launch the next planning phase to create the Community Center and the other spaces that might be associated with it, including non-profit cultural and educational uses, a large open space and community garden.

We have only just begun, and the one thing that we are certain of is that this community will grow and evolve along with the people who contribute to it.   Our vision, our plans, our designs are just the seed.  We are looking forward to seeing what it grows into.  Whether you are a friend, neighbor, visitor or potential resident, we hope you will join us in shaping this community.


Now Taking Reservations.

We are now taking reservations on homes in the first 3 phases. We are also taking back-up reservations, and creating a wait-list for rentals and homes in later phases. Regardless of your timeline If you are interested in living at Grow we encourage you to schedule an appointment soon.  Please contact our Sales/Leasing Director, Joie Olsen at 206.452.6755.

Model Home Tour Schedule.

Our Model Homes will be open for tours on the weekends through September from 1-4pm (with extended hours for Labor Day weekend 10am-4pm) and by appointment. Contact us 206.452.6755 to schedule an appointment.

Grow Community Sustainability Tours.

Interested in a sustainability tour? Join us Thursday afternoons at 4pm for a sustainability tour with our Architect, Jonathan Davis (Davis Studio Architecture and Design) or a member of our development team. We can walk you through all of the sustainability features incorporated into the designs of the homes and the community at Grow. Please RSVP here or call 206.452.6755 to schedule this tour.

Share Your Thoughts With Us.

Already toured our Model Homes? Would you like to share your thoughts? We would appreciate your feedback. We have only just begun, with an expectation that this community will grow and evolve along with the people who contribute to it. Our vision, our plans, our designs are not yet complete. Whether you are a friend, neighbor or resident, we hope you will join us in shaping this community. Please share your thoughts, reactions, ideas about the home designs, the community, anything really.

5 Minute Lifestyle; Sustainable Transportation Options For Residents At Grow Community

sustainable transportation at grow community bainbridge[The following is part of our Five Minute Lifestyle series. Living at Grow Community makes getting out your car easy with all of your local amenities and transportation needs met within a quick 5 minute walk or bike ride away. Our Five Minute Lifestyle posts are dedicated to spotlighting nearby local businesses, transportation options for residents, community resources and the spectacular local attractions of Bainbridge Island and our surrounding community.]

Building a healthy community takes more than just building energy efficient homes. Solar panels on your home and energy efficient appliances are a great start, but it’s only the beginning. There’s a much deeper story to be told.  Whole communities are built on the understanding that sustainability is defined not only by physical impacts to our environment, but also by the experience of support, equity and connection for the community’s members.  One Planet communities address all aspects of sustainability, from the ecological to the economic and cultural impacts, with social well being and quality of life as a foundation of the concept.

One of the principles behind Grow Community’s One Planet sustainable development model is reducing carbon from transportation. With this principle in mind, we set out to provide several sustainable transportation options for residents of Grow Community to make it easier to live without a car, or with only one family vehicle. Grow Community is a 5 – 10 minute walk (or leisurely bike ride) from downtown Winslow and the ferry to Seattle and the location of the development was carefully chosen to support a lifestyle that isn’t dependent on a vehicle. All of your in-town amenities and transportation needs are close by, and, if you work in downtown Seattle, commuting is easy from Grow.

[Related: 5 Minute Lifestyle; Five Local Food Havens Minutes From Grow Community]

We know that residents will still need a vehicle on occasion, and there is room for each resident to have their own car. But what if you would prefer not to own a car, or need a second car only once in a while? That is when Grow Community’s car-sharing program for residents comes into play. For a small monthly fee residents can opt-in to our Nissan LEAF car-sharing program and book our electric car for trips around town or into Seattle. The car is charged by it’s own dedicated solar panel array and is a 100% emissions free transportation option for Grow Community residents.  If interest is high, we will add a number of cars to the car share program, making this a choice that residents can depend on.

For the more casual outings, we have community bikes available for our residents. We are providing the bikes as a healthy option to easily get around Bainbridge Island, and we are hoping the bikes will help people explore the community. The bikes, made by Public Bikes, have already been popular with our own project team—a great way to get around town.

By providing a number of different options for Grow residents to choose low-carbon transportation options, we hope to reduce our overall carbon footprint, create healthy options for getting around town, and demonstrate how sustainable transportation choices can be easy on the pocketbook.

Scroll down to check out some pictures of our new Nissan LEAF and community bikes! 

grow community nissan leaf

 In the picture above you can see Grow Community’s new LEAF with it’s EV Station (on the right) and the solar array which is charging the station (the structure just to the left and behind the vehicle). In the background you can see our three solar powered model homes, now open for public tours. From left to right: The Aria, Ocean and Everett[Read more…]

One Planet Principles; Grow Community’s First Community Garden

Local and sustainable food one planet living principle[The following is a guest post by Lauren Haire, Project Manager at Grow Community. Aside from being a wizard with numbers and graduate of local sustainable-design university, BGI, Lauren enjoys working on Grow Community’s community garden space and has been a leader in planning the community features being built at Grow Community. She also shoots a mean game of hoops.]

Urban agriculture.  City farming.  Community gardening.   Whatever you prefer to call it, growing your own food has become increasingly popular.  In the Pacific Northwest, we are fortunate to live in a region where several organizations have paved the way for others to follow.  A great example is AlleyCat Acres in Seattle, who created their first garden on donated land in Beacon Hill.  The effort brought together volunteers to build the garden, and over the last few years they have helped harvest over 1,600 pounds of produce, much of which is donated to local food banks.  AlleyCat now has sites in the Central District and at MLK and Cherry.

Another great organization is The World in a Garden in Vancouver, BC.  This program has built partnerships with schools, restaurants and Farmer’s Markets to create an educational program that attempts to cross cultural barriers with food.  The garden has successfully built sustainable revenue streams through workshops, garden tours, sales of produce and garden products (honey, plants, etc).

At Grow Community, we have a vision of creating our own sustainable agriculture program right in the center of Bainbridge Island.   We have designed multiple community garden spaces that will allow residents to grow their own food, grow food for others, build connections with their neighbors and be part of the Grow Community Garden Program. [Read more…]

Save The Date! Model Home Tours Begin at Grow Community; But You Can Get a Sneak Peek

Grow Community Bainbridge Model Homes

On Friday, August  10th, public tours of model homes begin at Grow Community. Join us! 

The wait is over. Grow Community will begin public tours on Friday, August 10th. This project has been designed, with the help of community volunteers and sustainability experts, as an intentional urban community meeting the 10 Sustainability Principles of the One Planet Living framework. We want to thank everyone who has been involved in the project and who has helped us reach this point, and we invite all of you to schedule an appointment to visit our three model homes. 

[Read more…]

One Planet Principles; supporting community with local food

Grow Community Construction [The following is a guest blog post by Greg Lotakis, Project Manager at the Grow Community construction site. Construction prowess aside, Greg has been an important proponent of implementing the One Planet Communities development framework at the site, and has carefully thought about how to take One Planet Principles and turn them into a reality in Grow Community’s built environment.]

I went running a few days ago on one of Bainbridge’s waterfront trails. Between taking in the scenery on a beautiful afternoon and watching my feet so as not to fall on my face, some little details jumped out at me and I began to think about local food and agriculture on the island. [Read more…]

First solar panels installed at Grow today, one step closer to a zero-carbon community

Grow Community Bainbridge solar powered homesThe first of many solar panels are being installed today on the model homes! These are the first of thousands of panels that will be installed on the homes, apartment buildings and community buildings at Grow, helping us to create a zero-carbon community, with the goal of making all buildings zero-carbon by 2020. If all goes as planned, this will be the largest residential solar community in Washington State. This means that both homeowners and renters at Grow have the opportunity to reduce their overall annual cost of living by paying little or NO energy bills! Imagine that.

The solar package, supplied by BlueFrog Solar, includes all Washington manufactured components: Itek photovoltaic panels – manufactured just 100 miles from here in Bellingham, Washington; APS Microinverters, also locally manufactured in Poulsbo, Washington, and  racking from Sunmodo Corp. in Vancouver, Washington.

Reporting from the Grow Community, our architect, Jonathan Davis of Davis Studio  Architecture & Design, had this to say:

It wasn’t a blue-sky day, but it made it easier on the installers.  When the micro-inverter was plugged in the lights lit up showing we are making power!! [Read more…]

Pricing at Grow Community to be announced this Thursday, at Grow Drinks

This Thursday, July 12th from 7 to 9 PM, we will be gathering in the Pavilion at OfficeXPats for Grow Drinks—an evening of positive connection, wine, cheese and conversation. We will be sharing pricing at the event, so if you’ve been wondering how much a Grow home will cost, mark the date on your calendar, invite a friend, and get ready to meet the Grow Team and all the other people who are interested in life at the Grow Community. [Read more…]