Sunday, March 04, 2007

Residential, retail development in the works for Fairfield

Under one roof

Residential, retail development in the works for Fairfield

By John Ireland/Business Writer

Article Launched:03/03/2007 06:58:59 AM PST

The brain trust at Garaventa Enterprises has seen the future, and let's just say that the oil companies are not going to be happy. It's called integrated living - you live where you work where you shop - and it's the idea behind a project Garaventa Enterprises is developing on Suisun Valley Road in Fairfield.

The company believes anyone who has endured that parking lot otherwise known as Interstate 80 will embrace the idea of tucking the car keys in a drawer with the VCR remote and walking down the block to the office, or across the street to the grocery store.

Garaventa, which built the Fairfield Corporate Commons on the 72 acres it has owned in the area since 1988, recently purchased an additional 17 acres adjacent to Solano Community College to complete the parcel it needed for the development.

Now comes the heavy lifting - the construction of additional office space, along with more than 400 housing units, and a retail center with the tentative name of Marketplace at Green Valley.

"We're very confidant and very excited," Garaventa Enterprises COO Joseph Garaventa said of the project that is slated to start later this year. "It's definitely pedal-to-the-metal time, for lack of a better term. There's always a sense of urgency in terms of trying to make sure that we're on top of all the different facets of development."

"We think it's great synergy," said Brooks Pedder, chairman of the Solano Economic Development Corporation, which has its offices in the Fairfield Corporate Commons. "We needed someone to create an environment that will, ultimately, take people off the road as much as possible."

Pedder said the Nut Tree development in Vacaville was designed to help in this effort, but it doesn't have much in the way of an office component.

"(The Garaventa project) has got the business park - which is the hardest part to get - residential and retail, all under one roof," he pointed out. "And education next door. Theoretically, you can put your car in storage.

"It's actually happening here, the stuff that people have been talking about - smart development, let's be green: It's all here."

Key to the development is the construction of the Route 12 Northern Connector. The four-lane thoroughfare will run parallel to Interstate 80 from Suisun Valley Road to Abernathy Road. According to Garaventa Enterprises' literature, the connector will carry 45,000 cars per day. That's a lot of cars passing the retail center. That's also, hopefully, a lot of cars that would otherwise be clogging up the Interstate.

Garaventa Enterprises is building the section of the connector from Business Center Drive to the other side of Suisun Valley Road. Construction should be finished by the fourth quarter of 2008.

"The car counts are very, very important (to the project)," said Garaventa. "We wanted to be in an area that had high traffic and good visibility. The Northern Connector is the final part of the puzzle because we also wanted easy ingress and egress. We want our customers to be able to get in and out easily."

Garaventa said it's rare to find an undeveloped 50-acre parcel near the intersection of two major highways.

"This is really one of the last projects in the Bay Area where you've got an opportunity to develop this kind of retail in this kind of location," he said.

Robert Hammons, a manager with Garaventa Enterprises, said the company is encouraged by the local reaction to the development project.

"We've had nothing but positive comments from the area," said Hammons. "No one had anything negative to say about this reliever road and being able to get on and off the freeway without having to fight the traffic."

While it's too earlier to mention names, Garaventa said negotiations are underway with an anchor and a junior anchor for the Marketplace at Green Valley.

"The demand for our retail product has been exceptional," he said. "We've gotten an enormous amount of interest in the project from many, many major retailers. That confirms our belief that we've got a real good site, and that we're building the right product at the right time."

John Ireland can be contacted at

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