English Commons at Topsfield by C.P. Berry Construction stays rooted in its underlying heritage offering its residents an institution based on value, elegance and exposure.
By Lauren Felechner
Photography by Shelly Harrison
Located near Boston’s North Shore is English Commons at Topsfield — a 55-plus, activeadult community that is appropriately-designed to its location and namesake in a New England Traditional style, and built to Low Impact Development (LID) design standards boasting Energy Star certification. Developed and constructed by Carlton and Alan Berry of C.P. Berry Construction Co., Inc., English Commons at Topsfield upholds the Berry family name and their reputation for quality communities. “English Commons was naturally another step forward for us,” said Alan Berry, P.E., vice president, C.P. Berry Construction Co. Inc., and project manager for English Commons at Topsfield.
With a permit process that took two years due to rezoning; and funding that included private equity from partners and construction funding from Salem Five Bank, construction began in January 2010 with infrastructure and roadwork completed by fall 2010. By the end of 2011, just about onehalf of the units were constructed and final completion is anticipated for 2014 — depending on the sales market.
“The site was ideal to create the feeling of a New England countryside community with a lot of open space and to utilize the latest environmentally-friendly development concepts with minimal site disturbance,” Berry continued, “We knew we needed to design and construct English Commons with more value added at a lower, but fair price. The value added is reflected in both the site and the homes.” Berry decided to approach the construction of English Commons with the LID method that remains relatively new in Massachusetts, further setting this neighborhood apart from other 55- plus communities. The development was built at least 100 feet from any sort of wetlands, avoiding these problematic disturbances, as well as the final design entailing several bioretention areas and a large pond that was integrated with open fields, stone walls and New England architectural style buildings, according to Berry. He added, “Of the 68.5 acres of our site, 50 acres have been left as open space.”
Consisting of two floor plans that make up the residences, English Commons at Topsfield offers a very popular loft-style, as well as a more traditional route to living with the option of a two-story, townhouse-style. These layouts can measure anywhere from 2,200 to 3,900 square feet and cost anywhere from $655,000 for the townhomes up to over $850,000 for the lofts. Within these walls are open-plan interior layouts that seek to deliver elegant dwellings in a condominium setting, providing the 55-plus residents a carefree lifestyle. “The attached, single-family concept offers exceptional preservation of the land while maximizing privacy for the individual homeowner,” said Andrew T. Zalewski, A.I.A., president, The MZO Group, design architect for the project. The main effort behind Zalewski and the design process for English Commons was to maximize the spacious feel and luxury of a smaller home.
Even though C.P. Berry prides themselves on the quality communities that they deliver, building quality does not mean sacrificing the environment or style. “We have always built our homes and communities with an eye toward lowimpact and high-quality, so it only made sense to continue that tradition and improve on it,” Berry said. In order to achieve their Energy Star certification and build along the lines of LID, English Commons entails quite a few features throughout the community and homes that make it energyefficient and livable.
According to Berry, the HVAC system needed to be at least 95 percent efficient; all ductwork is sealed and pressure tested by the Energy Star HERS rater as well as the insulation and air-sealing inspected to ensure they both meet the stringent standards; and Energy Star appliances and either CFL or LED light bulbs were installed in the homes. “Buyers are more educated to the benefits of Energy Star, Low-Impact Developing, open space and other environmentally-friendly concepts, so offering these benefits sets us apart from other developers and is good for our business,” Berry explained.
Not only was this cost-effective and environmentallyfriendly approach taken with the construction of the community, but it was kept in mind throughout the design process as well. To maintain the traditional appearance of the New England style, Zalewski explained that a lot of effort went into upholding this image while implementing the maintenance-free and low-maintenance materials that present a superior appearance. “A simple thing like the solid, granite front steps leading to a lovely entry and foyer immediately emphasizes the quality materials that are used throughout the homes,” Zalewski stated. From the outside in, the inviting atmosphere of the English Commons homes continues with high ceilings and open vistas through the main rooms that lead to a gourmet kitchen. The homes maintain an open-flow that blends sunrooms and dining rooms seamlessly, without losing a sense of elegant living.
With all that it has to offer, it is no wonder that English Commons at Topsfield has remained a popular choice for Massachusetts’s 55-plus assembly to reside. As a for-sale community and still under-going construction, English Commons has a total of 18 units sold out of 49 total. The exterior of the homes are constructed for low-maintenance and longevity that ensures the community’s character for solid production and attention to every detail. Just as important as the homes themselves is the land they belong to. “One of the most outstanding traditions of the communities developed by C. P. Berry is the care that is given to fitting residential use into the natural landscape,” Zalewski said. Much of the property that English Commons at Topsfield is inherent to is in preserve, “… due to the clustering of the homes along a tight spine of the land,” Zalewski shared. With the majority of the land site left for open space, this allows for walking trails to be implemented throughout the acreage for resident-access to the natural features and elements that surround the community, while also maintaining these foundations in the most pristine state.
When the location for this community opened for sale, the Berry’s jumped at the chance with the hunch that it was the perfect site for their new endeavor — and their hunch proved beneficial. With another successful community in the making and a fifth one for the books in a partnership with The MZO Group, the team has been able to provide the Boston and surrounding areas with an open yet inviting community that boasts brag-worthy interior decor and a lush landscape. “There is a continuing effort on the part of the developer to provide high-quality communities that have evolved over many years of building and improving the products based on construction experience and buyer response,” Zalewski continued, “This is an evolutionary process that extends across three generations of the Berry family, constantly improving product and process to offer the highest possible value to the homebuyers.”
Lauren Felechner is an features edit at 50+ Builder. She may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.