Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Predictions for City of Fairfield projects to watch for in 2007

January 14, 2007

Predictions for projects to watch for in 2007

By Brian Miller and Karl Dumas

A new year always brings an opportunity to think about the future, to ask, "what's coming next?" Which vacant real estate site will be converted next to an inviting "people place?" What historic landmark or aging commercial structure past its prime will be rehabilitated to display new charm and character?

It's almost impossible for us to predict exactly which new real estate concepts will come to fruition in Fairfield during 2007. However, we can predict some of the big projects to watch for in 2007.

We don't need a crystal ball to predict the slowdown in residential construction during 2006 will continue through 2007. While some real estate prognosticators foretell a turnaround in the market, it will take some time for large new residential developments approved in Fairfield during 2005 and 2006 (for example, The Villages at Fairfield and the Garaventa project near the Community College in Cordelia) to begin construction. During 2006, Fairfield issued 229 new housing permits, less than half the average during the last three years. Look for the number of permits issued during 2007 to equal or slightly exceed last years total.

Despite the slowdown, a framework for future residential growth is being laid. The planning process in the proposed Fairfield Train Station area will be completed during 2007, an environmental impact report for the Allan Witt Park project will be finished, and a comprehensive planning project looking at infill development and redevelopment along the West Texas Street/Texas Street/North Texas Street corridor will be well under way.

The commercial market will remain stronger in Fairfield during 2007. With the completion of the 60-room Fairfield Inn & Suites in fall 2006, new hotel development continued to be a strong part of our construction economy last year. Look for two new larger extended-stay hotels totaling over 160 rooms in the Green Valley Corporate Park (near Copart) to open in 2007.

The big question is demand for these rooms absent major new employers in the area. Nonetheless, the city's Economic Development Division gets frequent calls from hotel developers interested in vacant sites for potential hotels. Given Fairfield's location at a transportation node with major highways, a key military base and projected business and residential growth, it is likely someone, somewhere will announce an interest in building a hotel in Fairfield during 2007, although we don't foresee any new projects actually breaking ground.

Green Valley Corporate Park's status as a premiere business park in Solano County will be further strengthened when the hotels open, but it's the office development that is expected to create the buzz during 2007. A 30,000-square-foot speculative office building is currently under construction near Copart. NorthBay Medical Group will begin construction of its new administrative headquarters (68,000 square feet), part of larger planned medical campus that may eventually include a hospital. Kaiser Permanente also owns land there but we don't expect it will make any major development announcement this year.

The Fairfield Auto Mall has shaped up to be the county's top performer and 2007 will see improvements at the northern end (near Home Depot) as the city reconstructs and widens the street and buries the utilities. Fairfield Ford has already opened its new showroom at Chadbourne and Auto Mall Parkway and we predict other major dealerships will be announced in 2007.

Will Wal-Mart begin construction during 2007? That's probably the biggest single question on the 2007 retail scene. Even if construction of the new building doesn't occur in '07, we anticipate the existing buildings will be demolished this year.

Another demolition we foresee this year is the vacant building on the southwest corner of Texas and Jefferson streets (across from Starbucks). This will pave the way for a proposed John Costanzo office/residential/retail building.

Yardbird's vacated its building a couple years ago, and we predict plans will be announced for the space. We expect several smaller tenants will be announced, not a single anchor.

24-Hour Fitness is under construction of its new health club at the mall and we predict there will be an announcement for retail tenants for its current space at Travis Boulevard and North Texas Street. Also, we look for Green Valley Plaza at Interstate 80 and Suisun Valley Road to announce the signing of major tenants for its 43-acre shopping center this year.

In January 2008, we will check in to see if we did OK with our predictions, or if we were really, really wrong.

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 kdumas@ci.fairfield.ca.us or bkmiller@ci.fairfield.ca.us.

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