Fairfield’s new business could double by 2022.

FAIRFIELD – The number of businesses opening in Fairfield has doubled in the past year compared to 2021, officials say, as business and development are picking up.

The town welcomed 75 new brick-and-mortar businesses, including Isla & Co., Sally Apiza, Trek Bicycles, Evolution Gaming and Ryoma Coffee, First Selectwoman Brenda Kupczyk said in her newsletter.

Behind the scenes, the collaborative and efficient work our departments help businesses through sends a message that Fairfield welcomes new businesses to our community. “The success of our local businesses is the success of Fairfield, and as a city, we strive to support these efforts in any way we can.”

In the year In a newsletter released in late 2021, Kupchick said more than 40 businesses opened in the city that year, including Aldi and Floor & Decor opening in the former Kohl’s location.

Mark Barnhart, director of Fairfield’s Office of Community and Economic Development, said the city has all the key criteria you need when deciding where to locate a business, including a skilled workforce, transportation infrastructure and quality of life.

“This sums up what Fairfield has to offer,” he said. “The fundamentals of our local economy are sound.”

The city has seen a number of large-scale construction projects in the past year, with others either approved or underway.

At a recent finance board meeting, Barnhart Fairfield has a high income demographic, strong financial management and a stable tax rate. All this aside, he said, the city is not an island and like the rest of the country and the world, it is experiencing some headwinds.

“With unemployment at or near the low level, that’s a good thing,” he said. “But it’s also an indication that the labor market is tight. We talk to a lot of businesses here and elsewhere. Many are having problems finding workers, keeping workers and things like that. They’re also … dealing with supply chain disruptions. Generally, across the board, a year or two ago. The price is still much higher than it was.

Office vacancy rates are trending well, Barnhart said, adding that Fairfield is among the lowest in the area. In the year He said 2022 was good for the city in terms of construction activity.

“If you go around town, you’ll see construction going on,” he said. “We have medical office buildings being built beyond the Hotel Hi-Ho, new three-story mixed-use buildings downtown for law offices, a veterinary hospital, Greenfield Hill Animal Hospital finally approved.”

Barnhart said only 4.5 percent of the land in Fairfield is zoned for commercial or industrial use, but it’s highly productive and makes up more than 12 percent of the large inventory.

“This shows that we don’t have much, so what we have to do we have to use it clearly, efficiently, well,” he said.

Kupczyk hailed the Fairfield Metro crossing, which was demolished last fall after years of standing, as a major victory for development in the city. The completed project will include a hotel, 70,000 square feet of commercial office space, 40,000 square feet of retail space, and 357 new residential units, 20 percent of which will qualify as affordable housing, she said.

“This project, when fully completed, is expected to generate more than $4 million in net new taxes annually, a significant boost to our community’s tax base and economic development,” she said.

Construction has begun on one of the residential buildings on that site, which is the largest plot of land available for development in the city, Barnhart said.

Barnhart said some of the largest multi-family mixed-use developments contribute significantly to the city’s grand list per acre yield. The former Exide Battery site was purchased in 2020 for $4.5 million, and a developer is said to be working on plans for the site, though officials said they were not impressed with the initial plans.

“You’re not really using this site,” we said. “For our previous discussion, we don’t have many of these sites, we need to use them wisely.”

Barnhart said he’s always optimistic about where Fairfield is going in terms of economic development, adding that trends go up and down. He said rising demand and material costs lead him to expect some of that to come down.

“I think the ones in the hopper at the moment will go forward,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of confusion about this. It goes back to the basics. The basics are very strong for Fairfield. We don’t have some of the issues that other communities in the state do. The things we can control are our own land use and permitting process.”


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