Development at home with open space
June 9, 2008 · Updated 6:45 PM
"If you want a look at the Bainbridge of tomorrow, check out North Town Woods, a new development north of New Brooklyn Avenue and east of Sportsman Club Road.Lots are small - 6,000 to 7,000 square feet. Of necessity, homes are close together.This is the outgrowth of changed platting requirements that favor clustered development, developer Jim Laughlin said. We have groups of neighborhoods with no cul de sacs. The neighborhoods are separated by open space, and every house backs up to open space.The 27-acre parcel, an L-shape that wraps easterly behind the Christmas tree farm and the fire station, is zoned for two homes per acre, or 54 homes. City ordinance required six of those homes to be affordable, and eligible for purchase-assistance programs. Adding nine more affordable units, for a total of 15, gave Laughlin one more market-rate site as a bonus, for a total of 70 homes.The houses are close together, but there's open space beyond that, he said. The craftsman-style homes were designed by Christian Zladu of Bainbridge Island Bungalow Company, who has since moved to Bend, Ore.There are 20 plans, all this style, Laughlin said. These are new homes, but the architecture is reminiscent of older, established neighborhoods.The market-rate homes, built by Bainbridge builders Reese and Zwicker construction companies, have from three to five bedrooms, and range in size from 2,058 to 2,630 square feet. Prices range from $345,000 to $376,000.The affordable homes will cost roughly $280,000, according to builder Jim Engle of Kitsap-Trident homes. Moderate-income applicants may receive a no-interest loan from the city of Bainbridge Island to help them make the down payment. That loan will be recouped when the house is sold.These look like every other home on the block, Engle said of the affordable units. They won't quite have the same finishes. But we tried to keep the square footage down and still be able to do some nice things. Most of the homes have detached garages. Those that don't have two-car garages set farther back from the street than the front entry.The focus architecturally is to have the house be the main feature, Laughlin said.The streets are concrete, and will last 50 years, eliminating five cycles of repair, Laughlin said.Laughlin, a Vashon Island native, became active in Bainbridge development shortly after moving here in 1986. He was involved in Fort Ward-area projects, and in Brookfield, the subdivision on the north side of New Brooklyn west of Woodward Middle School.His best-known development may be the Madison Cottages, the detached cottage-like condominiums behind a white picket fence on the east side of Madison Avenue between Wyatt Way and Knechtel Avenue.The idea was to go out and build smaller, higher-quality homes, and that needed to be done in town Laughlin said of the Cottages, which were built in 1993 and 1994. It was a multi-family development, but we ended up separating all of the units.Laughlin said he was surprised at how well the Cottages were received.It was a trend-setter, he said. We were written up in all kinds of magazines. Laughlin said that the site plan he is most proud of is Midden Point, which runs south of Wyatt Way to Eagle Harbor west of downtown Winslow.We laid that out by getting on a truck and driving through the property, he said. We wanted to make sure that the street followed the contours of the land rather than the other way around.Not all of Laughlin's development efforts have gone smoothly. In May, the planning commission recommended disapproval of Village Square, a mixed-use development between Hildebrand Lane and Madison Avenue south of the Village shopping center because of traffic and density concerns.Shortly before that action, Laughlin himself resigned from the planning commission.Part of what the commission does is develop the comprehensive plan, and I was happy to be involved in that, he said.But the other part is reviewing site plans for development. There were always conflicts of interest there, because it was either my project, or my competitor's project, and either way, I couldn't be involved.The first of North Town Woods' three neighborhoods is under construction on the north-south road immediately off New Brooklyn, and several of the homes have already sold, Laughlin said.Work is starting on the northeasterly segment. We're phasing the construction so that building the new areas won't disturb the people who have already moved in, Laughlin said.While Laughlin believes that the island will like North Town Woods, he suggests that anyone who doesn't should look not to the development community, but to city hall.This is a result of what they put down on paper, he said. "