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PRESS RELEASE: 3/13/06
Suttons Bay Developer, Old Friends, and the University of Michigan Collaborate in "Green" Residential Project
March 13, 2006
L to R: David Bahle, Ralph Randall Safford, Roger Gribi, and Tom Czerwinski
A unique collaboration of Michigan grads and the University of Michigan's Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning is putting the idea of life-long learning into practice.
David Bahle of Thorntree Commons, a "green" housing development project in Suttons Bay, Michigan, will be working closely with Professor Jong-Jin Kim, Ph.D. and the Taubman College of architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan. Dr. Kim and his graduate students will be conducting an analysis of Thorntree's plans and the social and cultural context of the eco-village, examining topographic and vegetation issues, solar access/availability, and prevailing wind factors. The University team will also provide expertise in areas related to building location, orientation and massing.
Both David Bahle and his wife Jean are graduates of the University of Michigan and are very pleased with this renewed connection to their alma mater. "It's the kind of collaborative arrangement in which all parties gain; as the developer, I am better equipped to transform my best intentions into the development project, it provides a real world setting for learning and training for our future architects, and it will have direct benefit for those who may choose to live here. And as more attention is focused on alternative thinking and how we shelter ourselves, the less daunting it will seem to those who follow."
All homes to be built at Thorntree will meet high standards in terms of energy efficiency with minimal environmental impact. The development may include a range of architectural styles and expressions but all plans for the single-family residences will emphasize "green" building materials and practices. Concept drawings from the College of Architecture will be produced for resident consideration to help visualize "green" building models. Dr. Kim's efforts will produce applicable information on building envelope construction, windows and daylighting, natural and assisted ventilation, solar energy potential, water conservation, interior and exterior finishes, and heating and cooling systems and appliances. The essential elements of this research will be reflected in the Master Deed Architectural Controls for the condominium project. It is the intention of Dr. Kim and the developer that "the architectural design guidelines ensure that individual homes are very energy efficient, environmentally benign, and comfortable to live in." This collaboration will provide specific benefit to individuals who wish to build as an investment in a socially responsible way at Thorntree and will serve as a model for future residential communities around the state and other regions of the country.
The residential community will be constructed on the village edge of Suttons Bay, Michigan with pedestrian access to all of the village amenities. The land that will comprise this new development has been in the Bahle family for many years and the developer is committed to preserving as much as possible the natural character of the land. Fifty percent of the wooded hills, with some views of the Bay, will be set-aside in a preservation trust that will be shared and enjoyed by all of the Thorntree residents.
The Thorntree project is also bringing together a group of old friends. Having met in the late sixties, these University of Michigan grads have continued to stay in touch and schedule reunions about twice each year.
Ralph Randall "Hap" Safford, philosophy, of Safford & Baker LLC in Bloomfield Hills, is handling all of the legal services for the project. After UofM, Safford finished his studies at Harvard Law School before coming home to Michigan. The Saffords have expressed an interest in some day building a home at Thorntree.
Roger Gribi was a business major who later combined his university training with hands-on skills as a carpenter to form Gribi Builders in Kewadin, Michigan. Gribi Builders Inc. has over twenty-five years of custom home building experience in the Grand Traverse Bay area. Kevin, Roger's younger brother and a Michigan grad as well, will also play a significant role in the Thorntree relationship. All Thorntree members will be advised to consider Gribi Builders by virtue of it being designated as a "preferred builder."
Finally, Tom "Ski" Czerwinski, political science undergrad with a graduate degree in public administration, has served as a reliable sounding board for ideas and keeping the focus on the right questions. His university training and years as director of a large West Michigan agency have brought him invaluable skills that he has been willing to share in the Thorntree process.
Developer David Bahle's first career was in educational administration, working mostly with adult programming. "The best way to feel vital is to keep learning and to do some important work each day. In my case it has been to try to push the envelope a bit and bring greater attention to our need for sustainable living. I'm very proud of the undertaking at Thorntree Commons and the participation and commitment of my friends makes it all the more enjoyable and meaningful."
The developer anticipates that units will be available to the public by mid to late summer (in engineer's jargon, "units" refers to lots set aside for development; the homes themselves will be built with the collaboration of the buyer). For more information on the project and its progress as well as excerpts from Dr. Kim's numerous publications, please visit the Thorntree Commons web site at www.thorntreecommons.com.