During the post-redevelopment area, local governments are forced to be even more creative in planning for revitalization and infill development in existing neighborhoods.
Redevelopment funding has largely disappeared and planning staffs have been downsized. Thankfully, there are regional funding sources that can help cities undertake comprehensive planning efforts and provide some funding for future capital improvements.
Regional funding in the Bay Area is now focused through the Priority Development Area program, which was developed by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Association of Bay Area Governments in order to facilitate infill development near existing and planned public transit facilities. Fairfield has four Priority Development Areas: Downtown South, West Texas Street, North Texas Street Core and the Vacaville-Fairfield Train Station.
Fairfield successfully used regional planning grants to help fund the Train Station Specific Plan, implementation of which is now in the initial phases. In the past, the city has also used regional and county funds from the Solano Transportation Authority for planning associated with the West Texas Street Gateway and for enhancements on North Texas Street.
Another round of regional planning funding is now available and Fairfield will be taking advantage of those funds in 2014. The Fairfield City Council directed the city manager on Tuesday to enter into an agreement with Solano Transportation Authority to prepare a specific plan for the Downtown South and West Texas Street Gateway neighborhoods.
The Downtown South neighborhood includes the Texas Street commercial corridor and abutting residential, office and institutional neighborhoods. This planning area is the original “town center” of Fairfield and is the “heart of Solano County.” Downtown South is within blocks of a major transportation hub, the Fairfield-Suisun Capital Corridor/Amtrak station, which potentially makes downtown Fairfield suitable for appropriate infill development.
West Texas Street extends from downtown to the Interstate 80 interchange. West Texas Street is the first segment of Fairfield’s “main street” and is a part of the original commercial corridor for the community, along with downtown. There remain ample opportunities for redevelopment and new development in the West Texas Street corridor, which offers easy access to a major community park and aquatic center (Allan Witt Park), the Fairfield Transportation Center, Interstate 80 and residential neighborhoods.
A specific plan is intended to be comprehensive in scope. The plan will address an overall community vision, land use, economic development, marketing, housing, infrastructure and development standards. The analysis will focus on residential development south of downtown and along West Texas Street, but also examine alternatives for commercial, institutional and office development on Texas and West Texas Street proper and adjoining blocks. The specific plan will include concepts for key opportunity sites and may include development prototypes that developers can take and run with.
The specific plan for the Downtown South and West Texas Street Gateway neighborhoods will also help qualify the city for capital improvement grants under the One Bay Area program and will enhance the marketing of the areas for private development. Future One Bay Area grants may help fund public utility improvements, streetscape enhancements, parks, transit improvements and other amenities needed to support the new development near transit and employment.
The specific plan process will require more than two years to complete (including environmental review) and will include a comprehensive community outreach program to involve merchants, property owners, residents and interested members of the community.
Brian Miller is leading the troops for this project and can be reached at 428-7446 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We welcome your input and believe that your voice can help make a difference in planning for the future of downtown and West Texas Street.
Economic Notes is an update from Fairfield City Hall written by Brian Miller and Karl Dumas of the Fairfield Planning and Development Department. Reach them at 428-7461 or email at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.