NEWBURYPORT — A developer has demolished barns on the former site of Colby Farm, setting the stage for construction of a housing cluster that is expected to start soon.
The project, by Downeast Building and Development LLC, will include 15 single-family homes, and is part of a larger open space residential development that aims to maximize the area’s preserved open space.
To make room for the project, the developer recently knocked down the Colby Farm barns, which were more than 100 years old.
The open space residential development was the subject of a zoning amendment approved in recent months that created the Colby Farm Lane Residential Overlay District, which allowed Downeast to build the housing cluster while turning over the remaining land to the city so it can be kept as public space.
Under the overlay district restrictions, 80% of the land on Colby Farm is to be kept as permanent open space
The open space residential development includes 416,122 square feet of protected open space to be given to the city, and two other parcels for protected city park land totaling 99,435 square feet.
Through a three-party agreement among the city, Colby-Bashaw Farm and Downeast Building and Development, the city paid $200,000 for its portion of the property, while the developer paid $1.25 million for the property, excluding a $250,000 cost for permitting.
Two of the project’s homes would be affordable housing units, according to Downeast co-founder Damon Amato. He said construction is set to begin shortly after Thanksgiving.
Amato also said that because 80% of the land at Colby Farm is required to be kept as open space, residents won’t see drastic changes to the landscape.
“The view corridors from Low Street will remain the same, and there is a view easement from the original historic farmhouse that’s been there as well to keep the historical significance,” Amato said.
The developer is also working to create another housing cluster on Colby Farm Lane, which Amato said would include “three or four duplexes and a playground,” and would also sit within the overlay district on a lot occupied by a trucking company.
Amato said the project is in its testing and design phase, and that “nothing concrete has been decided yet.”
Planning Director Andy Port said the plans for Downeast’s second development in the Colby Farm Lane Residential Overlay District have not been presented to the city and he expects to see them this winter.
Staff writer Jack Shea covers Newburyport City Hall. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 978-961-3154. Follow him on Twitter @iamjackshea.
Editor's note: This story corrects the amount paid for the land by the developer, which was incorrect in an earlier story.