Fairfield Metro Center Development Update
“It’s time to build something we can be proud of and that will be good for the town” said Kurt Wittek, Managing Director of Blackrock Realty.
An informal community meeting was held January 15th at the Quick Center of Fairfield University allowing town residents, business people and officials an opportunity to learn more about the proposed Fairfield Metro Center, followed by a Q & A session with Developer Kurt Wittek. Witteks presentation included an overview of the (currently opposed) 197 unit luxury apartment building he hopes to build in addition to office and retail space “creating a vibrant new neighborhood in Fairfield”.
A twenty first century workplace combined with a transportation hub and a curated collection of amenities designed to create a vibrant urban style environment to attract leading companies and talented, creative people.
2001 – Blackrock Realty acquires the property.
2003 – Tri- Party agreement is signed (with State of Ct and Town of Fairfield).
2007 – Final project approvals are given.
2010 – New tri-party infrastructure agreement is signed.
2011 – New Fairfield Metro Train Station opens.
2012 – Site cleanup is completed (PCB’s and other toxins/ waste were removed; an 11 acre park is planned).
- Blackrock Realty investment to date (since 2000) = $40 million.
- Initial financial contributions were: $5 million from the town of Fairfield, $19 million from the State of Ct and $5.3 million from Blackrock Realty.
The proposed residential development includes a 197 unit apartment building consisting of 131 one bedroom units and 66 two bedroom units designed specifically to attract young professionals and empty nesters in hopes of dissuading them from leaving Ct and migrating to more urban, dynamic and easily accessible office buildings, elsewhere. Blackrock believes with rising property taxes (Ct is 3rd in highest individual tax rate), rising municipal expenses and low to negative job growth (zero job growth in Ct for 20 + years); this area has become a ‘brain and talent drain’ as college graduates (& retired residents) are leaving the area and companies are relocating to more urban areas. Fairfield also has the highest mill rate of any coastal town in Fairfield County, has very little commercial development, very little diversified housing stock, an aging population and an economy that was heavily reliant on the financial services sector (which has undergone a radical restructuring) claims Wittek.
An average of one million sq. feet will be allotted as office space, a Hotel (a franchise agreement has been made with Hilton) will be constructed offering 180 rooms, 30-60,000 square feet will be used for retail and restaurants (possibly a bank, coffee shop, etc.), while approximately 200,000 sq. feet will be used as residential space. The residential space will include standard amenities such as a gym, a pool, a clubhouse, a mini theatre, underground parking (approx. 2700 spaces) and more with the added convenience of the nearby train station. The entire center including the residential space will consist of a total of approximately one and a half million square feet of space.
“The real issue we face is that if we don’t do something to attract and retain companies, jobs and talented young people to Fairfield, our current system is unsustainable and will lead to further financial consequences” said Wittek. “Our proposed apartment building by itself could generate up to $1 million in net positive revenue (annually) for the town”.
Opposed residents’ concerns
Adding more retail, commercial and residential space will leave many currently occupied buildings, vacant. This will add more school children to our local schools and will impact the housing market. As well as “the revenue issue,” said Wittek (which I debunk).
Blackrock’s next step will be to go back to conservation on some technical issues and then back to planning and zoning, which will be our biggest hurdle”. Blackrock is committed to completing this project.
Project completion goal date(s)
“We can be in the ground 6 months from the final approval date and it will take approximately 18 months to complete the Center – so it will take roughly 2 years to complete all from the final approval date,” said Wittek.