$45M mixed-use building for 55 and older planned for King Street in Northampton

By BRIAN STEELE

Staff Writer

Published: 10-12-2022 8:37 PM

NORTHAMPTON — A $45 million, five-story commercial and residential building planned for 79 King St. will seek tenants 55 and older who are looking for a home where they can age in place — and perhaps give up their gas guzzlers in the process.

The developers of the 70-unit mixed-use structure, on the site of Goggins Real Estate, are Live Give Play and Spiritos Properties, which is working on its inaugural project to help older adults who are looking for services and a community that will enable them to stay in their homes for as long as possible. The prefabricated mass timber structure will be assembled on site, saving several months on construction and, according to the developers, promoting reforestation.

Live Give Play wants its properties to push “participatory philanthropy,” according to founder and CEO David Fox, so tenants will be expected to volunteer their time in the community.

“We believe that a full life involves service, as well, and we’re going to facilitate that among our tenants,” Fox said. “Our tenants can be mentors to the people in the community.”

While not a requirement, the hope is that tenants will be open to ditching their non-electric cars in exchange for easy access to the bike path at the back of the property and the close proximity to businesses and other important services. The property will offer a fleet of six electric cars for tenants to rent and planners are interested in attracting a retail bicycle shop.

“We’re not anti-car, but we’re saying, please make them electric,” Fox said.

Surveys by organizations including the American Association of Retired Persons have found consistently that most older adults would prefer to age in place, while the Kaiser Family Foundation found in 2018 that one-third of people 65 and older, and half of Black and Hispanic seniors, have incomes lower than $25,760 per year.

The new development addresses a “nationwide crisis of baby boomers living in houses they can no longer afford,” Fox said. “We offer people a way to sell that suburban house, walk away from all of that.”

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The design by BKSK Architects calls for a 110,000-square-foot building with high ceilings and a focus on energy efficiency. Berkshire Design Group is the project’s civil engineer, surveyor and landscape architect.

Berkshire principal Jeff Squire on Wednesday called the development “a game changer for King Street,” which has few housing options, and “the catalyst” for future growth on the heavily traveled corridor.

“It’ll be the biggest thing that’s happened on King Street in quite a few years,” Squire said, adding that the rent would be “attainable market rate.”

The construction will meet “Passive House” standards, Fox said, meaning that it is eligible for $210,000 in rebates from the state organization Mass Save.

“Passive House design focuses on robust insulation and air tightness, high-performing glazing, and simplified mechanical systems to achieve significantly lower energy use while creating a comfortable and resilient space for inhabitants,” according to Mass Save.

The goal is to eliminate up to 80% of the need for energy use.

“Everything we’re doing on the construction side is state of the art as far as minimizing carbon footprint and energy use,” Fox said, adding that Passive House standards are “sweeping the construction industry on a worldwide basis.”

At a hearing on the proposal last year, the Planning Board ordered the developer to submit its final lighting plans for review and to plant a new tree, or make payment in lieu of planting, for any removal of a tree wider than 20 inches.

The project is still raising capital and groundbreaking is expected next spring. Units could be occupied by the end of 2024.

Brian Steele can be reached at bsteele@gazettenet.com.]]>