Fairfield Metro developer sets community forum Tuesday
Updated 3:11 pm, Monday, January 14, 2013
Private development plans for part of the Fairfield Metro property, site of the town's third railroad station, may be moving off the sidetrack where they have been stalled for about a decade.
Blackrock Realty plans to conduct a public meeting 7 p.m. Tuesday to give an update on the ambitious, multimillion-dollar complex of commercial and residential projects it envisions on the site off lower Black Rock Turnpike.
The meeting will be held in the Kelley Theatre at Fairfield University's Quick Center, and it will be, according to Blackrock Realty's Steve Curtin, a forum where the public can learn more about the project, express their views and ask questions about Fairfield Metro plans and their impact on the town.
Curtin said the meeting was planned in response to what he called, "public misconceptions, bureaucratic delays, market conditions and our desire to better inform, with fact, the public discourse."
The private development of the site has been on hold since the project was unveiled, while the public segment of the undertaking -- the rail depot -- became mired in costly jurisdictional disputes, construction delays and litigation. The railroad station finally opened in December 2011.
In addition, Blackrock Realty's share of the project was in foreclosure for part of the drawn-out process.
Now, however, Blackrock Realty is asking permission to start work on its segment of the project by constructing a 197-unit apartment building bordering Ash Creek. But the developer must secure Town Plan and Zoning Commission approval to change what had been initially approved as a retail building to residential use.
Construction of the first office building, for which footings and foundations have been completed, will start once an anchor tenant is signed, the developer said. That building is to include a concourse, with a waiting room and rest rooms for the train station.
In a release, Blackrock Realty's managing partner Kurt Wittek said an apartment building at the Fairfield Metro property "is good for the overall health and vibrancy of Fairfield."
He said the apartments would provide housing options for older residents looking to downsize, as well as young professionals. He contends it is also in keeping with the recently adopted Transit Overlay Zone.
The one- and two-bedroom apartments in the structure would have "luxury finishes and amenities" and rent would range from $2,700 to $3,500 monthly, according to the developer.
Wittek is anticipating that about 20 school-age children would live in the apartments, costing the town about $240,000 for their education per year. "We anticipate our apartment building alone will be assessed for property taxes at more than $53 million," according to Wittek, generating $1.24 million in annual property tax revenue.
The developer projects the entire private share of the Fairfield Metro project could deliver more than $5 million in property tax revenue, he said.
Eventual construction plans also include retail shops, restaurants and a hotel.
"We don't want to change the character of Fairfield," Wittek said. "We're not talking about changing downtown Fairfield, Greenfield Hill, Southport or most of the rest of the town. We do want to change the limited industrial area around the new train station."
Years ago, the property was the site of a foundry.
Blackrock Realty has set up a Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/events/239889749474870, and a Twitter account, ttps://twitter.com/FairfieldMetro, for information about the project and the community meeting.