Monday, April 16, 2007

Good News on Development Front

Good News on Development Front
By Brian Miller and Karl Dumas

Okay, we will admit it . . . our 2007 projections for new housing permits may turn out to be less than accurate.

In January, our "state of the city" projections for 2007 development projects predicted new housing permits issued this year would equal or slightly exceed the 2006 total of 229 units. Well, during this year's first quarter, 116 permits were issued for new housing.

Leading the charge of permit activity were the Goldridge (northeast Fairfield), La Vita Bella (Cordelia area), and Madison (Peabody Road) housing subdivisions. Although these housing developments have been on the drawing board for some time, it is an encouraging sign when construction permits are actually pulled.

And here's another heartening headline: During the past few weeks, there has been renewed interest by property owners and developers in developing the smaller "infill" and redevelopment parcels left behind during Fairfield's great expansion of the last few decades. These projects are scattered throughout central Fairfield and range in scale from new duplexes and houses downtown to new subdivisions with 50 units. Note that many of these projects are in the "conceptual" stage right now, so keep reading our column for updates.

East Tabor Street appears to be a focus of new development in central Fairfield. Readers may recall plans by Tim Lewis Communities for 92 townhouses near just before the railroad crossing. In fall 2006, the city approved another subdivision, Ivy Wreath, at the eastern end of East Tabor Avenue near Walters Road. The developer, Castle Companies, has now acquired the adjacent parcel and is expanding its subdivision map to include more than 80 units. Formal Planning Commission action is scheduled for April.

City staff is reviewing a conceptual plan for 41 townhouses at 212 East Tabor Ave., immediately east of North Texas Street. Among the city goals for the property is having some of the units face onto the improved Linear Park. Nearby just west of the intersection of East Tabor and Dover avenues, the property owner has submitted a design concept for 16 homes.

A conceptual review has also been received for a site on East Travis Boulevard at Sunset Avenue. Sunset Crossing proposes 37 new townhouses. (If you are keeping count, the four projects above would probably not be ready to issue building permits this year, so they would not add to numbers we projected for 2007).

The residential neighborhood south of downtown Fairfield continues to see interest in small-scale infill housing. Check out Illinois Street and some of the major faade renovations and examples of attractive small-scale infill housing fronting the alleys. At 1240 Illinois St., the property has been divided to allow for future development. Next door at 1238 Illinois St., the property owner has proposed a new alley-fronting duplex.

And at 747 Broadway, the property owner has expressed interest in developing a new duet home on the frontage of the alley. The existing older home would stay. On the other side of Pennsylvania, the property owner at 1320 Woolner Ave. has proposed subdividing the property into six lots, with four new homes and two existing homes.

While we are on the subject of infill development, we've reported in the past about development at the former Fairfield Bowl site on North Texas Street at East Tabor Avenue. The city has been negotiating with a development team to build a mixed-use project incorporating new for-sale housing (54 units) and commercial space (8,500 square feet) fronting on North Texas Street. The project will improve the Linear Park along the frontage, incorporating the park corridor into the project design. Selling the land is on the City Council agenda for May.

It's okay to be wrong (understate the numbers for projected new home permits) when the headline is positive development activity. Of course, we don't dare predict how the second quarter of 2007 will turn out but our recent surge of activity is reason to get excited. Of the 229 total new housing permits pulled last year, 65 were done in the first quarter and we have now almost doubled that number.

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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