A Nantucket Inspired Neighborhood of 46-Homes, Norwell, MA
~ By Maryellen Dever
Walk into a J.P. Gallagher-built home, and you are immediately struck by the signature open floor plan. Keep walking, and custom details are everywhere, from arched transom doorways, crown moldings, built in wall units, custom kitchen cabinetry, to wainscoting and coffered ceilings.
J.P. Gallagher Construction and Development LLC has been building quality homes throughout southeastern Massachusetts for over 30 years. Brothers Jay and Paul Gallagher are known for creating custom homes to complement and enhance New England communities. They are committed to meeting the needs of today’s educated, value-oriented consumer.
For the past 25 years, the Gallagher brothers have had a professional relationship with real estate investment firm A.W. Perry. Together, they have developed some of the most sought after neighborhoods on the South Shore, including Stone Meadow, Spring Meadow, Deerfield Farm, The Homestead, and Whiting Village in Hanover. In Norwell, their superior craftsmanship can be seen in the homes on Tara Drive, and they have just received approval to develop the 24-home Horseshoe Farm project in Marshfield.
Along a quiet, winding country road, the Perry/Gallagher team is busy developing the largest new neighborhood in Norwell in 30 years, Wildcat Hill. Set on a ridge 5 minutes from Route 3, this 72-acre neighborhood is the first open space or “cluster” development in Norwell. The 46 homes will be set on half-acre lots, preserving about 33 acres, or half of the open, buildable space, for walking trails.
According to Rich Beal of A.W. Perry, the project took 6 years of permitting and a change in the town zoning by-laws to make the project a reality. But that’s fine with him and the Gallagher brothers. For them, it’s all about developing a positive relationship, and being good neighbors in the communities in which they live and work. He explained that, “As you look at Wildcat Hill, A.W. Perry has owned the land for over 40 years. We didn’t take the fast track to build. We wanted what was best for the community, the land, and the environment. Because we addressed neighbors’ concerns, it took longer. We wanted to be good neighbors.”
Cluster zoning is common in other parts of the country, and is becoming increasingly popular in Massachusetts. Paul Gallagher says, “The future is in this type of community. As a developer, it leaves a lot of open space, and people value open space. People enjoy backyards and backing up to open space.” All of the homes at Wildcat Hill will either back up to walking trails or other open space. That way, said Beal, residents won’t get the feeling they are on top of each other.
Still, the developers believe people are interested in being part of a community. People are looking at smaller, energy efficient spaces. All of the homes will be New England inspired capes, traditional colonials, and the very popular shingle-style architecture.
Jay and Paul Gallagher say they are seeing a shift in the type of home people want now. They are downsizing, looking at smaller spaces. But that doesn’t mean they can’t have all the extra touches that have made Gallagher homes famous. In fact, these special touches seem tailor-made for the smaller homes in Wildcat Hill. Inside, to keep families organized, there are closets and storage spaces wherever you turn.
Typical of a Gallagher home is the mudroom with built-in benches to take off those muddy boots; hidden behind wood paneling are lockers to keep the kids organized; and even a cubby large enough to slide a lab-sized dog crate under more built-ins. Also typical are neutral-hued walls, hardwood floors throughout, even in the kitchen; beadboard and ceramic tiled bathroom floors.
A creative, open floor plan provides the opportunity of a first floor master suite, a homework/family computer room with built-in desks and shelves off the kitchen, and pantries. Marketing Manager Jody Pugh says pantries are making a comeback, and even butler’s pantries are available. His and hers walk-in closets are standard in the master suite and becoming more common in the other bedrooms as well.
Fireplaces are typically gas, and made of marble or stone. Central air conditioning, gas heat, a security system, a sprinkler system, and an allowance for professional grade appliances are included. Architectural roof shingles come with a lifetime guarantee. Upgrades to radiant heat in the finished basement and bathrooms are available.
Wildcat Hill, said Jay Gallagher, is an “environmentally friendly neighborhood.” They created biomorphic drain basins with plantings which were desired by the Norwell Conservation Commission, and designed sidewalks and walking trails so fewer trees were cut down. All utilities are underground as are connections to the neighborhood’s own private wastewater treatment plant.
The homes themselves will also be energy efficient and environmentally friendly. Standard wall thickness is 2”x6”, helping to insulate the houses to higher than standard code requirements. Front entrance doors are Craftsman-style wood doors with thermopane windows. Low maintenance features include PVC trim and Hardiplank clapboard, white cedar shingles, composite decking, and solid PVC rails on the back decks. Andersen windows, French drains, and energy-efficient compact Buderus boilers add to the list of high-end standard features.
Homes are built with smart technology. For example, the alarm system is tied to water sensors in case of washing machine overflow. Homeowners may even upgrade their home by having it built as an Energy Star labeled home.
Jay Gallagher explains that with customization, anything is possible. “We custom design a house for [the client]. It could be a merger of different features from other houses we’ve shown them.” He notes that the design process is as individual as the clients themselves. The Gallaghers will spend as much time as needed with each client. Some clients have very few ideas; others have binders full of pictures. Typically, there are many meetings and house tours with each client prior to developing the final custom home plan. “That’s how we develop great floor plans – we merge according to what people desire. Within the neighborhood, there are no two homes exactly alike.”
From the design process, it takes another 4 to 6 weeks to review the plans and make any adjustments. It then takes another 6 months to custom build the home all depending on the clients’ time & size of the home.
To Jay and Paul Gallagher, the focus is on building the perfect home for every individual client and family, one at a time. Jay puts it this way: “I think it’s important that people’s expectations are met and exceeded. We are able to achieve that through 30 years of experience, and many meetings, to develop a great plan to meet their needs. And it’s a fun process.”
Wildcat Hill’s roads will be paved, and its first foundations will be poured in December 2011. The neighborhood is expected to be a mix of families and some empty-nesters, and six homes have already been pre-sold. Homeowners’ Association dues cover maintenance of all open space areas as well as maintenance and replacement costs of the wastewater treatment plant.
the sewer connection, or a total home package from the mid-$700s. With the tranquil setting and easy access to Route 3, the Mill Pond YMCA, and the Hanover Mall, it’s a great value. Prospective buyers who choose to use their own home plans must have them approved by the Homeowners’ Association’s architect review committee. Plans are required to conform to the style of the neighborhood to create a consistent aesthetic and protect each resident’s investment.
That protection is just as important to the Gallagher brothers. According to Jay, “We’re building the biggest investment people have. We’re great guides during the design process. We feel that our houses have a greater resale value because they’re so well thought out and so well built.”
Wildcat Hill is located off Pleasant Street in Norwell on Wildcat Lane. GPS: Across from 250 Wildcat Lane. For more information, visit www.jpgallagher.com.