Wentworth Way throws its doors open to the public

An exterior view of one of the new housing units on Wentworth Way. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

The Island Housing Trust will welcome the public today from 5 pm to 6:30 pm, to celebrate the completion of its newest affordable townhouses at Wentworth Way, off Lake Street in Tisbury, and tour the project.

Four Island families each bought a 1150-square-foot, two-story townhouse, at prices ranging from $184,500 to $222,000, based on buyer income, according to Philippe Jordi, executive director of the Island Housing Trust (IHT), which spearheaded the development. Buyers earning 80 per cent of area median income qualified for the lower priced house. Families at 100 per cent of median income qualified for the higher priced unit.

The Times toured the houses in advance of the open house. Each unit has a living area with a half-bath downstairs and two bedrooms and a full bath on the second floor. A fully insulated attic provides additional storage space

A third townhouse unit with two additional homes is planned for Spring 2013 on the 1.38 acre site, for a total of six units.

Mr. Jordi said the new homeowners are expected to be on hand today. Mark Schoenfeld and Tara Edge have purchased one unit. Mr. Schoenfeld works at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital and Ms. Edge at Linda Jean’s restaurant in Oak Bluffs. Island artist Amy Nevin will move into another unit with her two daughters. Liz Loucks of the Nature Conservancy and Richard (Jerry) Jacobs, who works at the West Tisbury School, are the other new homeowners.

The houses have been designed and built with an eye to high efficiency, low energy use, Mr. Jordi said this week during a walk-through of the homes. “The homes are all electric, and we expect total energy costs to be in the $130 per month range,” he said. “The homes are also wired for solar panel installation which would provide additional energy savings if the homeowners choose to install solar down the road. The homes are modest in size but they meet the highest standards.”

Each house stands on land leased for 99 years from IHT. “If a home is sold, the land lease will restart for 99 years from the date of sale,” Mr. Jordi said.

The $1.22 million project was designed by LDa Architecture and Interiors, Cambridge, and MacNelly Cohen Architects, Vineyard Haven. The houses were constructed by the Williams Building Company, West Yarmouth, at a total cost of $308,000 per unit and a construction only cost of $216,000, Mr. Jordi noted.

Development financing included $380,000 from Tisbury’s Preservation Act funds for land acquisition. Martha Vineyard Savings Bank provided $200,000 in pre-construction financing, and the Edgartown National Bank provided $860,000 to build the houses.

The project was completed in six months. “Well ahead of schedule and on budget. Williams did a great job,” Mr. Jordi said. The homebuyer application and awards process was completed in January, somewhat earlier than usual.

“We wanted the new owners to have a chance to set up their homeowners association, bank accounts, officer elections, that sort of thing, so they would be ready to manage things as soon as they moved in,” he said.

The Wentworth Way homeowners’ association elected Ms. Loucks as its president. The homeowners group is responsible for its post office box, a bank account to receive common fees used to maintain a short road into the property and to provide upkeep for a common green area on the site, he said. Each home has a separate septic system for which the homeowner is responsible. Homeowners pay a $50 monthly fee to IHT which provides oversight and assistance, if needed, to homeowners, Mr. Jordi said.

Mr. Jordi noted that homeowner financing included Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank, Sovereign (Santander) Bank, an off-Island savings bank in Randolph, and Mass Housing financing agency.

Mr. Jordi is heartened by the variety of financiers represented. “We’re seeing more financial entities providing mortgage financing for affordable housing. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, for example, has an accessible program for homebuyer financing,” he said.