business center, 4/5/13

Business Center Drive and Suisun Parkway, which make up the North Connector, has not seen much commercial development as of yet. (Brad Zweerink/Daiy Republic)

Local Business

North Connector area still waits for development boom

By From page B7 | April 07, 2013

FAIRFIELD — Various vacant lots along the North Connector – officially called Suisun Parkway in the rural county and Business Center Drive in Fairfield — are waiting to sprout businesses, homes and other endeavors.

Precisely when such projects as apartments will begin construction remains to be seen.

“Though the economy has been improving, it takes milestones, so to speak, for these things to pencil out and development to occur,” Fairfield Principal Planner Joe Lucchio said.

The North Connector links the Green Valley area of Fairfield with Abernathy Road in the Suisun Valley area about five miles away, near central Fairfield. It cost about $67 million to build and opened in phases about two years ago.

A major reason the North Connector got built was to give local motorists an option to using Interstate 80 for cross-town trips. The state Department of Transportation wanted Solano County to take this step before giving money to local I-80 freeway projects.

It also serves the purpose of commerce.

“The North Connector is very important to Fairfield and allows for the continued, planned development of the Cordelia area,” a 2007 city report said.

At the northern end of the roadway in Suisun Valley is the former Cadenasso Winery owned by the Rowlands. Herman Rowland, chairman of the board of the Jelly Belly Candy Co., has proposed building a Suisun Valley entry center there, though he has said he is merely exploring possibilities at the moment.

Papers filed with Fairfield envision such things as a market selling Suisun Valley produce and Jelly Belly products, a tour bus transfer station, a gas station and a hotel. However, the filing was made not as a formal application, but to get feedback from city officials.

Lucchio said the city will soon respond with a list of what the city envisions are the major issues associated with such a development.

One issue that has already emerged is that the land is outside city voter-approved growth boundaries. It would take a vote of the people for annexation to take place. Without annexation, the project might have to rely on septic systems instead of sewer service, which could limit the amount of development.

The North Connector then runs south through about three miles of rural land that is not targeted for development. At Suisun Creek, Suisun Parkway turns into Business Center Drive and enters a stretch that has vacant lots along cul-de-sacs.

Fairfield has several developments on file for the area. For example, the Diocese of Sacramento is to build a new church and school. Officials with the diocese couldn’t be reached Thursday and Friday to talk about the timing.

Nearby is land targeted for Paesino Verde, with 284 multifamily units. A city residential projects list from late 2012 puts the project under the “expired and inactive” category. Officials from developers DeNova Homes didn’t return a Friday phone call to comment on when the project might break ground.

Farther south, at the corner with Suisun Valley Road, sits 44 acres that is targeted to become a regional shopping center called The Marketplace at Green Valley. For now, it remains a vacant lot, as the search continues to find prospective retailers.

“The retail market is still a little slow,” Lucchio said. “We’re starting to get more and more activity in it.”

Farther to the south, NorthBay Healthcare is proceeding with plans to construct a 34,630-square-foot building next to its existing administration center at 4520 Business Center Drive. The building is to house primary care services now housed in leased space a mile away and provide space for specialty practices.

A Fairfield zoning administrator hearing for the NorthBay project will begin at 1:15 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall, 1000 Webster St.

Finally, on the far south end of the North Connector, the Paramount Parks assisted living facility is to be built. Lucchio said the developer is reducing the number of units and is going from a three-story project to a two-story project.

Lucchio will give an update Wednesday on Paramount Parks to the Planning Commission. The commission meets at 6 p.m. in the City Council chamber at 1000 Webster St.

The North Connector remains a road that at most times has fairly light traffic. But future development along its vacant lots — as well as the yet-to-be scheduled construction of a segment connecting with Highway 12 in Jameson Canyon — could change this.

Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929, or [email protected] 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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