Property developers bandy phrases like “energy-efficient” and “community,” but few go as far as NOW Communities has with Concord Riverwalk — which promotes social interaction while sparing the environment as much damage as possible.
“Our priority was people and plants,” says developer Dan Gainsboro. “The goal when planning was walkability. Parking is deliberately away from the houses, forcing you to walk and interact with your neighbors. We located the mailboxes away from the homes, too.”
Situated adjacent to the Assabet River in leafy West Concord on almost four acres of land, more than half of which isn’t developed, these 13 smart, small-footprint homes look like a cluster of New England cottages set around a communal garden.
Ten homes are newly built, but the land had two existing houses that are being retrofitted. One dates from the 1950s and was sound. But the other was built around 1864 and was in bad shape. “There’s very little left that can be used, but it’s more energy-efficient to retrofit, so we chose to save what we could.”
Other green/communal priorities include close proximity to a town center — West Concord is within walking distance — and to a commuter rail network.
The homes are equipped to be solar-powered for hot water and electricity. “If I’d fitted them for solar, I’d get one tax credit. But homeowners can claim several credits. One resident installed solar and her energy bill in July was 79 cents.”
Though the project isn’t entirely finished, it’s already proving a hit with a wide demographic of home-hunters.
“We’re finding interest from all age groups and situations,” says Gainsboro. “That makes for a more sustainable community long-term.”