Saturday, December 27, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Solano home-building market still slow

19 housing 001

Joel Rios works on a house in the Summerwood residential area along Railroad Avenue in Suisun City, Friday. Some houses are under construction in Suisun City. (Aaron Rosenblatt/Daily Republic)

By
From page B7 | January 19, 2014 |

FAIRFIELD — Maybe, just maybe, workers in 2014 will finally begin installing the roads, sewer and other infrastructure necessary for The Villages at Fairfield, the city’s next planned, big subdivision.

“We’re hoping to,” said Doug Mull of Lewis Group of Companies. “Things have improved. We’ve seen a little bit of a lull the last five months, but we’re hoping that we resume some improvement in 2014.”

The Villages at Fairfield is to have about 1,900 residences near Cement Hill Road. It was to start construction in 2008, but then the national, state and local housing markets evaporated.

Should The Villages at Fairfield finally start construction, it would be a sign that the local housing market is well on the road to recovery. Other subdivision growth in recent years has been the build-out of projects already underway, with infrastructure in place.

Workers could begin putting in the infrastructure this summer, Mull said. If that happens, building construction would begin the next year.

“We’re hoping,” Mull said. “We’re certainly closer.”

But close enough? He didn’t say that for certain.

The Fairfield housing market still isn’t roaring. The city issued 217 single-family home building permits with a $36.9 million value in 2013. That compares to 277 permits with a $44.4 million value in 2012.

Fairfield from 1990 to 2006 issued an average of 632 housing permits annually. But, during the depth of the housing downturn, this fell to a mere 35 permits in 2008.

Fairfield Community Development Department Director Erin Beavers isn’t expecting an immediate return to the glory days of housing permit issuances.

“I’m not looking forward to double or triple or anything like that,” Beavers said. “I think it’s just going to be a gradual recovery. I think we’re two to three years out before you really begin to see it picking up heavy again.”

Richmond America’s Goldridge, Seeno’s Paradise Crest and Garibaldi Ranch, and Citation’s Madison are subdivisions being built in Fairfield.

Suisun City on Saturday saw the opening of models for Summerwood by O’Brien Homes. Summerwood is located north of Railroad Avenue and west of Sunset Avenue. The development had already been underway before the nation’s housing bust hit, stopped and then restarted.

But that doesn’t necessarily signal a renewed housing boom in Suisun City in 2014. Three other planned residential developments listed in a November 2011 city report remain dormant.

“I can’t think of any other housing development we’ve really had happen,” said Dan Kasperson, the city’s building and public works director. “And there’s nothing near on the horizon.”

But he sees a possible bright sign.

“At least we’re having some conversations with developers, which is more than we had a year or two ago,” he said. “But it’s too early to tell.”

Vacaville issued building permits for 125 single-family homes in 2013, 97 in 2012, 140 in 2011, 214 in 2010, 304 in 2009 and 142 in 2008. That compares to an annual average of 474 permits from the pre-housing bust days of 2001 through 2005.

The city has several housing projects that have the potential to move forward this year, Community Development Director Maureen Carson said.

“I say that very carefully,” she said. “Those are out there and ready to go. In terms of what will actually happen is a different story.”

Among the developments that could request building permits this year are Vanden Meadows, Rancho Rogelio, Brighton Landing, Southtown phase two and Southtown Commons, a city report said.

Vacaville recently passed a 10 percent discount on development impact fees for up to 100 homes or apartments.

“That’s being done as an economic incentive to hopefully stimulate some of these projects to get off the sidelines and start building,” Carson said.

California as a whole still has a recovering housing market. A chart issued by the California Building Association shows the state had 72,963 housing starts in 2013, which is the most since the housing meltdown began, but still short of the 137,023 annual average from 1990 through 2007.

Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929, or beberling@dailyrepublic.net. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling has been a reporter with the Daily Republic since 1987. He covers Solano County government, transportation, growth and the environment. He received his bachelors of art degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara and his masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley.
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Discussion | 2 comments

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  • Kene WinstonJanuary 19, 2014 - 2:39 pm

    I'm local resident, I understand the process slow..I have been seeing construction and PG&E for the past 8 months. Its good to finally see E.tabor being rebuilt.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rich GiddensJanuary 19, 2014 - 7:36 pm

    Got water? LOL!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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