Friday, June 17, 2011

KING5 NEWS - One of world's greenest communities coming to Bainbridge

CLICK HERE to watch news segment


Posted on June 14, 2011 at 7:51 PM
Updated today at 7:58 PM 

BAINBRIDGE ISLAND, Wash. -- An aging Navy housing complex on Bainbridge Island will soon be torn down and replaced by 137 zero waste producing, bike sharing, flex car driving, organic food growing, solar powered homes. 

"This isn't about requiring extra effort to live sustainably," said Marja Preston of Asani Development. "It's really making it easy to do all the things that we think we ought to do." 

The development is call the Grow Community. It's built on the concept of "five-minute living." That means living within a five-minute walk of nearly everything you need. 

Located just above the Bainbridge hub of Winslow, residents will have easy access via walking trails to shops, restaurants, farmer's markets and the ferry terminal. The idea is to make cars largely unneccessary and increase the sense of community. 

"We're creating an option for living that doesn't exist right now," said Preston.

People are already looking to move in. The 130 student Madrona School is considering a location at Grow Community. 

"If people are able to walk to their children's school, even live in the community where it's located, how beautiful is that?" said Madrona's Missy Goss.

Grow Community is based on The Vineyard, another sustainable living development on Bainbridge. The Vineyard has solar powered units, common gardens and green spaces instead of parking lots. 
"It makes you feel like you're in the Northwest," said resident Philene Vaivods. 

But Grow Community will be much larger and much greener. The goal is 100-percent solar power and zero waste for the 87 apartments and 50 single family homes. It is expected to be one of only a handful of communities in America endorsed by One Planet which certifies entire developments for their Earth friendliness.  

But developers admit, green living is a tough sell to some. Cars will be allowed at Grow, but there will only be parking for one per family.  

"If you have to have two or three cars, that's gonna be tough," said Asani consultant Kelly Muldrow. "You are closer to your neighbors so you have to be the sort of person who gets along with other people."

Developers plan to break ground on the project next year and build four homes to test the market. Single family homes are expected to run anywhere from $250,000 to $390,000.

Planned solar-powered Bainbridge development could be the greenest around

Kitsap Sun
By Tristan Baurick
Posted June 7, 2011 at 7:13 p.m.

— The planned Grow Community will be one of the largest developments the island has seen in decades. It might also be one of the greenest in the state. 

Contributed Artwork The proposed Grow Community, seen in this artist's rendering, might be one of the greenest developments in the state.
With the goal of drawing all of its power from the sun, the 137-home project is aiming for one of the nation's first endorsements from the BioRegional Development Group, an international nonprofit that promotes the creation of earth-friendly neighborhoods through its One Planet Communities program.

Grow Community, which is planned for a nearly 8-acre site in downtown Winslow, would be the first project in the state endorsed under the One Planet program.

"This is an ambitious project that has really pushed us to get creative," said Marja Preston, a planner for the Bainbridge-based Asani development company.

Proposed about a year ago, Asani announced its One Planet goals this week. The project won't break ground until next year.

The project's 87 rental apartments and 50 single-family homes will be built with energy and water-efficiency in-mind. The centrally located site will have features that encourage walking, biking and small-scale food production.

The One Planet program has endorsed housing projects in the United Kingdom, Portugal and California, and is working with developers on at least nine new projects in France, South Africa, China and Australia.

An endorsement doesn't grant tax breaks or any other incentives. All Grow Community will get is One Planet's stamp of approval.

"But that can help with marketability," Preston said. "We will be different than anything else on the market."

While other environmentally sustainable certification programs focus on individual buildings, One Planet takes a broader approach, assessing how a development encourages a more earth-friendly way of life.

The One Planet-endorsed Sonoma Mountain Village in San Francisco, for instance, earned points for its links to a commuter rail line and its five-minute walking distance from a farmers market, thereby promoting the use of local foods. Sonoma Mountain also is outfitted with solar panels and aims to have its residents use 65 percent less municipal water than a typical city resident.

The main idea of One Planet neighborhoods is to reduce each resident's natural resource consumption, said Geof Syphers, a green building consultant for One Planet's North American programs.

He said that if each person on the planet ate, drank, drove and produced waste at the same rate as Americans, an additional 4.5 Earths would be needed just to meet demand.

"We, as Americans, are deficit spenders when it comes to natural resources," he said.

To offset that deficit, Grow Community plans to draw all its energy from on-site and off-site solar panels. Most of the panels would be spread across the development's roofs. Additional panels could be located elsewhere on the island.

Vehicle parking would be located in consolidated areas away from homes, making residents more likely to use the development's trail network as their primary means of getting around. The trails, including a main public one, would funnel residents toward Madison Avenue, where a farmers market, a grocery store and various Winslow shops are within easy reach. Only one parking space is planned for each home.

"This is for five-minute living," Preston said, referring to the time it would take to walk to several downtown destinations.

The L-shaped property stretches along Wyatt Way between the Pavilion commercial complex and Grow Avenue. About 20 homes would be demolished to make way for Grow Community, most of which are ramblers along John Adams Way.

The development's initial plans include public improvements along Grow and Wyatt, including bike lanes and sidewalks where none currently exists.

Asani is in talks to relocate the 120-student Madrona School into three of the development's buildings totaling about 20,000 square feet. The private, Waldorf-affiliated school has outgrown its shared location at Eagle Harbor Congregational Church.

"We like the sustainability goals (of the development) because they're really compatible with a Waldorf education," said Amanda Sturgeon, a Madrona parent leading the school's relocation effort.

Grow Community's many amenities won't come cheap, but Preston said Asani hopes to balance the project with a price at the lower end of the Bainbridge real estate spectrum. A one-, two- or three-bedroom home could cost anywhere from $250,000 to $390,000.

"Affordability and (population) diversity has been a primary goal from day one," Preston said.

Asani plans to build four homes by May to test the residential market. Reaction to the four homes will then guide larger building phases, probably beginning near Shepard Way on the site's south border.

Full build-out could take six years.

Asani owner Bill Carruthers built Winslow's Vineyard Lane condominium project and the Island Gateway commercial project taking shape on Winslow Way.

Along with the One World endorsement, Grow Community is aiming for the gold level in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system.

Asani is hoping for a density boost through the city's Housing Design Demonstration Project, a pilot initiative that allows a zoning upgrade for sustainably-built affordable housing. Grow Community would be the second HDDP development after Ferncliff Village, which breaks ground this month.

Grow Community's density bonuses would be earned largely through its earth-friendly amenities rather than low-end pricing. The project is not aiming for affordable housing status or public funding.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Wham BAM! The Bainbridge Art Museum Takes Shape

Inside Bainbridge
by Sarah Lane on June 5, 2011.

At the corner of 305 and Winslow Way, right next to KiDiMu, there is a large, brand new building and a large recently flattened area of dirt, subject of much Island speculation. Part of the building now houses Pretty Stick, the flagship store of a new nontoxic makeup company, and Avalara, a provider of web-hosted sales tax and use tax management services. Violet Restaurant (formerly Real Foods) will be opening in the facility soon. Another part of the building houses the start of the Bainbridge Art Museum, or BAM (as I have decided to call it). In the area of flattened dirt in front of it will soon rise the rest of the 20,000-square-foot museum.
Completed part of BAM
Completed portion of the BAM facility

Although BAM is quite a ways from being completed–the earliest anticipated opening is late 2012–it already paints an impressive picture, and the description of what it is to become is quite ambitious. The brainchild of Cynthia Sears, who has been contemplating such a creation for a decade or more, BAM aims to house a permanent collection of works by contemporary regional artists, feature a gallery for changing exhibits (up to 16 per year), work with local schools and the Bainbridge Island Park District to display art by young people, and partner with local organizations, including KiDiMu, to support their efforts by offering space resources such as classrooms and an auditorium.

Greg Robinson, the museum’s Executive Director, says that since achieving nonprofit status for BAM in 2009, the founders have been asking themselves, “What does it mean to be right here, on Bainbridge Island, where the environment is so important?” Members of the board hope to reflect that reality through many of the exhibits they offer. And they intend for the museum’s physical incarnation to reflect the Northwest environmental sensibility as well. To that end the building has been designed to meet the standards of LEED Silver, the U.S. Green Building Council’s third-highest level of recognition, which Robinson says is always an accomplishment for a museum. Museums have particular lighting needs and temperature and humidity concerns that make it particularly challenging to attain LEED energy-use standards.

Solar panels on the roof, a mechanized louver system to maintain a constant temperature inside, the use of sustainable building materials including denim insulation (provided through a grant from Levi Strauss) and FSC-certified woods, recycled-fiber carpeting, a bamboo ceiling, waterless urinals, a green roof, living walls, a permeable surface surrounding the building, and, most impressively, the incorporation of geothermal energy tapped via pipes embedded on site are all part of the building’s innovative design.

BAM classroom
Bainbridge Art Museum Classroom

The finished facility will include a reception area and main lobby space; four galleries; a special collections display; glass display cases for smaller, more delicate items such as books and jewelry; a cafĂ©; a museum store; art archives; and a rooftop garden named in honor of Island garden artists George Little and David Lewis. For now at this early stage, BAM consists of offices, classrooms, and a 95-seat auditorium. As part of its education-focused mission, BAM is inviting groups to use its existing spaces for lectures, classes, small concerts, and video screenings. Bill Baran-Mickle, one of BAM’s board members, is especially excited about the auditorium, as it will enable the museum to digitally document and present artists’ processes.

Island Gateway campus
The Island Gateway campus

The Island Gateway campus is set up as a condo association, with residents sharing responsibility for common areas. The BAM project’s architectural firm is Coates Design, project management is being handled by Asani, and the construction company is PHC. BAM will own the finished building. An additional retail/commercial building will be constructed in the southwest corner of the campus.

Architectural renderings courtesy of Island Gateway. Photos by Sarah Lane, 2011.