Monday, October 02, 2006

City Takes Snapshot of Available Vacant Land

City Takes Snapshot of Available Vacant Land
By Brian Miller and Karl Dumas

FAIRFIELD - With all the commercial development activity around Fairfield in the last few years, some folks may wonder if we're running out of office and industrial land.

Recently, the city's Community Development Department compiled data from parcel maps, zoning maps, aerial photos, broker data, Geographic Information Systems and Internet databases to generate a comprehensive inventory of vacant industrial and office land within the city's Urban Limit Line in Fairfield. Here is a glimpse of the findings.

There are about 1,123 acres of vacant office, industrial and service commercial acreage available. However, much of this land isn't on the market and available for new development due to environmental, infrastructure or market constraints.

About 582 acres of the vacant land can be considered unrestricted. This land will accommodate about 8.5 million square feet of building area for industrial and office development. Of this vacant land, about 308 acres is zoned limited or general industrial and will accommodate about 4.7 million square feet. Land zoned for office commercial or industrial business park is 218 acres, which will accommodate about 3.2 million square feet of office space.

About 25 acres of vacant industrial land is built out each year to accommodate an average annual construction of 379,000 square feet. Based upon this rate of development, land zoned limited or general industrial could be built out in about 12 years. We estimate that roughly 10 acres of office development occurs per year, so the present supply of land zoned for office commercial and industrial business park represents a build out period of more than 20 years.

It is important to note, however, that large, unrestricted sites and general industrial sites are in short supply. Private property owners and the city can take actions to open up the amount of unrestricted industrial land with infrastructure investments and permit processing.

The Community Development Department also reviewed the supply of vacant buildings in the city. There are about 2.6 million square feet of vacant industrial and office buildings available in Fairfield today. Almost 1 million square feet of this space is located in the two buildings formerly occupied by Saint Gobain on Fermi Drive.

The northeastern part of Fairfield has 270,000 square feet of building space available. North Cordelia, south Cordelia (excluding Saint Gobain's former buildings), the west side of Fairfield and central Fairfield each have less than 150,000 square feet of space available and a combined total of 320,000 square feet of building space.

Industrial zoning is by far the largest designation for Fairfield's vacant buildings. Limited Industrial has the most building space available - more than 2 million square feet. General industrial building space totals 250,000 square feet and industrial business park has 200,000 square feet available. There is a little more than 100,000 square feet of built office space available.

All of the large vacant buildings (more than 100,000 square feet) have an industrial zoning designation. There are six buildings vacant with between 100,000 and 200,000 square feet available. Only five buildings are available that are between 50,000 and 100,000 square feet. A total of about 90,000 square feet of vacant space is comprised of small suites under 5,000 square feet in size.

So what does the information gathered in this snapshot of available land, industrial land absorption, office land absorption and vacant buildings really mean?

We have land available to produce job growth in the years to come, but need to look at removing constraints on the restricted land and identify larger parcels.

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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