Sippican Partners LLC
- Written by: Molly Shaw
- Produced by: Ryan Fecteau
- Estimated reading time: 7 mins
Sippican Partners LLC (Sippican) is bridging the gap between development and sustainability; demonstrating that real estate growth can in fact, better the community by interweaving environmental, social and economic objectives.
Based in rural central New Hampshire, Sippican is a real estate development management group, taking on the role of developer and construction manager to facilitate more effective, conscientious and sustainable building.
The firm has been doing business in the New Hampshire Lakes Region for nearly 15 years and its Sippican’s belief that the beauty of its home base is something to preserve for generations to come. “Through the recession we spent a lot of time trying to understand the meaning of sustainability,” explains Barry Gaw, founder and managing member of Sippican. “In the process, we became LEED-accredited professionals and certified-green builders. We learned that in this rural region, we have the unique opportunity to use real estate as a sustainable economic driver for the area, extending beyond the environmental aspect and also bettering the social and economic parts of development.”
Gaw says these days, the term sustainability gets tossed around a lot and the definition is constantly evolving. But since inception, one thing has remained constant for Sippican -that’s using real estate to better the communities.
Based on New Hampshire’s Squam Lake, Sippican reaches across New England with four different divisions, but the firm got its foothold in Boston in the mid-1980s. “We’re a developer with a few core competencies,” explains Gaw. “We have the development side, and also partner in an assisted-living company called New Era Senior Living [New Era], which we co-founded in 2004. We also run a construction company, property management and a marina – all in all Sippican strives to create jobs, better our communities and do good work.”
Filling holes in communities
Sippican’s roots trace back to Boston in the late 1980s, when Gaw first began what he calls, “filling holes in communities.” Gaw’s development career started in developing and renovating historic brownstones in Boston. “We concentrated on Beacon Hill, the South End and Back Bay,” he tells. “Back then many young professionals were working to rebuild inner city areas, gentrification and restoring neighborhoods was really the focus and I enjoyed fixing broken things.”
With so much attention concentrating on revitalizing some of America’s great cities, Gaw, who spent his summers with his family vacationing in New Hampshire, thought the same concept could apply to rural regions. “I’ve always had ties to New Hampshire, so when I decided to start Sippican in 1997 I knew it would be a good fit,” he shares.
Green from the get-go
Since then, Sippican has been purchasing, developing, rebuilding and managing a little bit of everything: “From senior to residential housing to commercial use; we really try to find opportunities to better the community,” measures Gaw. “The type of development isn’t necessarily our focus -its how the development is going to improve the community. That’s the foundation of our efforts at Sippican.”
While Sippican has more recently emerged as a certified-green builder with ties to the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and a LEED professional, Gaw says the firm has been inherently green from the get go. “Over the years, we’ve done a lot of historic renovations, affordable housing and transit-oriented developments,” adds Gaw. “Mainly our projects strive to balance the natural and built environment by using less resources, develop from existing infrastructure, burn less energy and regionally source labor and materials – all of these measures build from each other.”
As a real estate developer and manager, Sippican offers consulting on new or existing projects, while also managing real estate and construction, broker sales and affiliated businesses all in-house. “We develop real estate and manage construction for ourselves and our clients,” explains Gaw. “A project’s objectives are universal, typically related to minimizing risk, maximizing value, containing costs, meeting time deadlines, ensuring quality and successfully completing the project. An experienced, skilled, and accountable project team does their homework, develops a plan and makes a project happen. Planning, teamwork, execution and personal character can move mountains.”
Shining at Squam River Landing
One of such thoughtfully planned and expertly executed residential communities is Sippican’s Squam River Landing (SRL). Encompassing 65 acres in the Squam Lakes watershed of central New Hampshire, SRL is a shining example of how responsible development can improve an area in economic, social and environmental avenues. SRL is a cluster planned land development of 61 fee simple home sites overlooking the Squam Lakes and mountain ranges with lake access available through Riveredge Marina and Squam River Landing – Boat Club. Phase one of the land development consists of 24 home sites.
“We purchased the property in 2007,” tells Gaw. “Before, it was part of a rundown marina and piece of raw land. When we were evaluating the development options we realized the shorefront values of Squam had become unattainable for most local families and it was changing the social makeup of the area.”
Gaw notes Squam River is the only watershed in the entire country on the registry of historic places. “A $50 million development is fairly large for this area, but it has the potential to increase the town of Ashland’s assessed property values by 20 percent,” he details. “Our objective is for Squam River Landing to serve as a model for balancing development and the natural environment in ways which better and strengthen the local community.”
The right-size development
Sippican has carefully crafted SRL, inspired by the heritage of the historic Squam Lakes. The architecture of these homes reflects lakeshore camps of days past, while using today’s sustainable design features and right-size homes.
“By right sizing the homes, we’re able to add back in the architectural detailing and high performance components typically removed when homes are bigger than they need to be,” explains Gaw. “Our homes appear to have been designed and built in the city to country summer boom of the late 1800s, but with the high performance of today’s building science and methods.”
SRL homes use less energy, less water and natural resources; reduce waste of resources while creating a healthier, comforting home and less impact of the environment. Beyond the residential component, Sippican has built a balance with a buildable areas matched with open space, trail systems and expansive views of Little Squam Lake, Squam River and the White Mountains. The project includes access to Squam Lake through Riveredge Marina, where families and friends come together to enjoy all the lake has to offer.
Environmental, economic and social drivers
Since purchasing the land in 2007, it has been Sippican’s goal to incorporate all aspects of environmental, economic and social benefits into SRL. Economically speaking, SRL will significantly increase the Town of Ashland’s property tax revenue and the sewer infrastructure. SRL also creates and preserves 16 permanent jobs and 5,000 short-term jobs in construction while generating business activity for local companies.
Socially speaking, SRL provides a housing option for Squam Lake families, allowing access to the Squam Lakes at lower price points than lake front properties. SRL is also an active community supporter, involved with sports, kids at risk programs, conservation groups and business development initiatives. Eastern Adaptive Sports is operated from the marina building and provides year-round adaptive sports, including waterskiing, snow skiing, fishing, cycling for any age and stage and disability.
Environmentally, the SRL master plan combines elements of a cluster plan within a conservation development which balances built density with preserved land. Home design and construction methods follow Energy Star, LEED and NAHB Green eligibility. Sippican has already closed on four residential properties in the community in 2014 and five homes, ranging from 1,500 square feet to 3500 square feet are currently under construction.
According to Gaw, SRL is an example of a how the industry has shifted in recent years. “Building with environmental, social and economic objectives has become best practice for us,” he compares. “Working with organizations, such as the USGBC and the NAHB, gives us good access to how the industry is innovating and helps us stay current with the issues of the day. They are both solid organizations for moving forward, blazing new trails and driving value, which is what we aspire to do.”
Building better for the future
Since inception, Gaw and his team at Sippican have been doing more than real estate development and construction by working to fill voids in communities from cities to rural regions. “We’re looking to drive factors such as job creation, affordable housing, a greater sense of community and more all through sustainable real estate development,” states Gaw. “Economic, social and environmental – all three elements are needed to better the sustainability of a community.”
“We’re putting together the ‘what,’ i.e., real estate, as a method to work with the land and the ‘why,’ to better the community,” adds Gaw. “It’s a worthwhile challenge to better the community around us while taking a piece of land and developing it. As a developer, it’s great to stand back and say, ‘we built that as a group and it goes beyond an economic return.'”
For more than 17 years that’s been the driving force behind Sippican Partners LLC as the company bridges the gap between real estate development and thriving communities.
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