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A former bamboo field in Rockport has been transformed into a welcoming, 23-unit affordable housing development for seniors and families. The intergenerational housing offers residents light and bright living areas, front porches, raised bed gardens, a playground, and easy, walkable access to downtown Rockport.

“There’s a sense of belonging and home that you might not get at a bigger development,” says Jen Hocherman, associate principal at SV Design, the Beverly architecture firm that designed the project.

Called Granite Street Crossing, the new development is a collaboration between SV Design, Beverly community development nonprofit Harborlight Homes, and Groom Construction of Salem.

“It’s our first intergenerational approach, but it’s really exciting,” says Andrew DeFranza, executive director of Harborlight Homes, which owns and operates the property. “The senior building has beautiful light, common areas, raised bed gardens, community spaces outdoors. Families have front porches, a little playground for the kids. And it’s a block and a half from the ocean – it’s a really beautiful, beautiful setting.”

The project began in 2016, when Harborlight Homes first met with the previous owners of the property. Several years were spent gathering funding from the state and the town to support the plan, as well as working with neighbors to ensure they approved of the size, design, and scope of the project. In the end, DeFranza says, the neighbors were all very supportive and the town voted unanimously to approve the development.

The design includes several elements intended to make the property feel welcoming and like an organic part of Rockport’s built landscape. Hocherman points, for example, to the transitions between clapboard and shingle siding, the use of decorative trim to make the scale of the buildings feel more intimate, and the inclusion of patios to draw residents outside and build connections between neighbors.

“We knew this was going to be an affordable project, we knew it was going to be cost-conscious, but also needed to feel homey,” Hocherman says.

There are also plans underway to coordinate health care services and support for senior residents and residents of two other senior housing properties Harborlight operates in town.

“We want a more human, more economically viable system for seniors in Rockport to age in place,” DeFranza says. “The big idea is much bigger than the site itself.”

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