Monday, August 01, 2005

Nuts and bolts of retail growth in City of Fairfield, CA

July 31, 2005

Nuts and bolts of retail growth in Fairfield

We had the pleasure of being in the room of the Paradise Valley Club House last week for the annual Solano EDC real estate roundup breakfast meeting. In a forum setting, real estate experts converge annually to disseminate marketplace happenings for residential, industrial/office, and (our favorite topic) retail development activities.

While the residential market is certainly hot and industrial/office is surviving, discussion of planned new retail development in central Solano County stole the show.

Jim Randolph, senior vice president and director of retail service with Cornish & Carey Commercial Real Estate, started his presentation by discussing the proposed Mills Corp. "Fair of the Future" 1 million-square-foot regional shopping center project in Vallejo.

Moving to Fairfield, Randolph talked about the large retail potential on the former truck-stop property, the recent retail pads built at the Green Valley Crossing neighborhood center, the proposed Lewis Group retail development at Air Base Parkway and Clay Bank Road, the proposed Wal-Mart at the former Mission Village center, the neighborhood retail planned on North Texas Street at Dickson Hill Road, and Westfield's desire to expand its Solano mall.
The discussion regarding Suisun City focused on the 700,000-plus-square-foot open-air center proposed near Highway 12 and Pennsylvania Street.

For Vacaville, the Nut Tree's large development to be anchored by Best Buy and Borders Books was mentioned. Vacaville's other large planned retail development near Interstate 80 and Highway 505 was discussed as in the planning stage.

By our count, he discussed almost 4 million square feet of new retail for central Solano County during the next few years. That's the equivalent of four new Westfield Solano malls. Still, although the announcements for the retail centers are out, it takes years to put deals together and quite often sizes can expand or contract or deals fall apart due to the leasing process.
When shopping centers approach 1 million square feet, they are usually considered a regional draw. Economically, most regional centers attract retail sales leakage from outside of the respective city (shoppers come from other areas to visit the center). The biggest impact on Fairfield from large, new out-of-town regional centers may be that we will see fewer shoppers from neighboring cities. Shoppers will have less incentive to come to Fairfield.

Will all the new planned retail development lead to pressure to convert commercial land uses to commercial mixed and even residential in the older business districts? Although some of the retail stores along the 80-to-80 Corridor (West Texas, Texas, North Texas) may stock some similar items also sold at large regional centers, these smaller stores aren't necessarily in direct competition.

The city of Fairfield recently approved an economic development strategy that will, among other things, address the retail sector of our economy. One of the big retail issues will be finding new retailers that currently don't exist in the central Solano marketplace or creating an exciting new fresh market niche.
The city also has assigned staff to address business and property owners concerns related to retail issues affecting the 80-to-80 Corridor. Additionally, city staff has also been assigned to evaluate the long-term viability of additional proposed retail.

Economic Notes is an update from Fairfield City Hall written by Brian Miller and Karl Dumas of the Fairfield Planning and Development Department. They can be contacted at 428-7461 or e-mail at or

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