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New Northampton condos combine style, efficiency

  • Hallway to living room and kitchen areas at a condo on Grove Street in Northampton, Wednesday.

  • Developer Bruce Volz, right, of Florence, talks about his condo project on Grove Street in Northampton, beside architect Dorrie Brooks, Wednesday.

  • A two-condo unit is seen from the upstairs deck of another two-condo unit on Grove Street in Northampton, Wednesday.

  • The living room has large windows that let plenty of natural light in. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Kristian Whitsett, left, of Jones Whitsett Architects, and developer Bruce Volz, of Florence, talk in the kitchen of a condo on Grove Street in Northampton, Wednesday.

  • An interior door hangs from a top rail in a condo on Grove Street in Northampton, Wednesday.

  • Architects Dorrie Brooks, left, and Kristian Whitsett, right, of Jones Whitsett Architects, with developer Bruce Volz, of Florence, talk about their condo project on Grove Street in Northampton, Wednesday.

  • The bathroom is clad with wood that was salvaged from a barn that was once on the property GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Exteriors of a pair of two-condo units on Grove Street in Northampton. GAZETTESTAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Two-condo unit on Grove Street in Northampton, Wednesday.

  • The condo includes an open kitchen, living and dining space GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS



For the Gazette
Sunday, February 19, 2017

NORTHAMPTON — A local developer and architectural firm have teamed up to construct condominiums with the highest level of energy efficiency possible.

Developer Bruce Volz, leading the Small House Opportunity Project, partnered with Jones Whitsett Architects to create four innovative condominium units on Grove Street.

If solar panels were installed, the condominiums would be net-zero houses, meaning that the amount of energy used in the home is equivalent to the amount of energy produced by the solar panels. The electrical system in the condominiums would suit solar panels, if the owner chooses to install them.

The condominiums also feature an efficient HVAC system and walls that are 10 inches thick.

Aside from the efficiency of the homes, the condominiums are also unique in their architectural design. The structure of the building itself is modern, with jutting edges and a geometric shape.

“I was keeping with the whole idea of using a new architectural style,” said Volz.

Large windows let plenty of natural light shine on an open floor plan. The upstairs units are about 1,200 square feet and include a rooftop deck, while the downstairs units have a slightly larger indoor living space.

An upstairs unit includes an open kitchen, living and dining space, a master bedroom, a guest bedroom, a laundry closet and a bathroom.

“Bruce really kept design in the forefront of the conversation,” Dorrie Brooks, a Jones Whitsett architect, said.

In a unit that Volz was showcasing, the cladding on the back wall of the bathroom is made up of wood that was salvaged from a barn that was once on the property. The hardwood floor in the master bedroom is made of local lumber. The owners can even select the color of the front door, when they move in.

“For us, this is a lot of fun,” said Brooks about designing such modern, cutting-edge houses.

The project was inspired by the Small Lots, Big Ideas competition in Northampton in 2013.

The Small Lots, Big Ideas competition acknowledged a change in zoning laws in Northampton, which encouraged infill and gave residential owners more flexibility to add to their property.

The project on Grove Street would not have been possible without the zoning law changes, according to Brooks. “This is a lot that might not have been developed,” she said. It wouldn’t have been reasonable to develop the land on Grove Street for just a single-family home, she explained.

So far, two of the condominiums have been sold and one is on deposit, with an asking price of $399,000.

“It’s been a great project for the people who are living here and I think it’s been a great project for the city,” said Volz.