Fairview’s New Council Members Briefed on the Town’s Economic Development Efforts
Crunching big numbers and working your way through complex formulas and arcane rules for hours and hours would not be considered a pleasant way to pass time for most of us, but if you are a member of the Fairview Town Council it is a crucial part of your responsibilities to properly manage the town you have been elected to serve.
On Fri., Jun. 21 the Fairview Town Council met at Fire Station No. 2 for a work session focused on the role of the town’s Community Development Corporation (CDC) and Economic Development Corporation (EDC), both are considered essential tools for recruiting desirable commercial development and town enhancements --- a hugely important function that provides funding for essential public services that would otherwise have to be paid for through taxes on residents. Equally important to understand is that revenues gathered by the EDC and CDC have provided essential funding for roadway construction and improvements, water and sewer construction and maintenance, town parks and recreation facilities, to name just a new.
Of the seven members of the Fairview Town Council, six of the seven members have served for one year or less, so mastering the intricacies of economic development is an exceedingly high priority for the new Council and for town residents.
Unlike other municipalities, Fairview’s Strategic Plan Focus has defined a list of six types of businesses the town wants to attract that includes office and corporate headquarters, medical, financial and professional services, technology software and media, retail, dining and entertainment, hotel and hospitality. Left off the list of targets are distribution centers, warehouses, industrial, and manufacturing plants.
Fairview has had an Economic Develop Strategic Plan in place since 2004 and it has been updated twice, most recently in 2018. The plan includes goals of:
· Creating a new and unique Town Center
· Providing a variety of housing options in the community
· Increasing the Town’s non-residential tax base
· Improving infrastructure within the Commercial Property Development District (CPDD) to attract and sustain desired commercial development
· Providing dining, shopping and entertainment opportunities for residents, workers and visitors
· Attracting and retaining businesses within the Town that complement the community’s image and lifestyle
Much of the discussion revolved about the development of Fairview’s downtown, the Fairview Town Center. Mayor Lessner and Israeloff, who now chairs the Economic Development Corporation led that discussion. Lessner explained that the original developer’s vision of a large and open shopping, residential and entertainment center collided with the beginning of the Great Recession in 2008 and thwarted the development of the complex. It was a difficult task to attract quality tenants because of the struggling economy. In desperation, the original developer recruited too many tenants whose business models did not align with the property and whose businesses subsequently failed. Israeloff added, “Coincidentally, at the same time retail marketing began to shift to a new and different business model in response to growing Internet -based sales.” The original developer’s operations were subsequently taken over by its lender, Prudential Insurance, which then simply sat on the partially developed project for more than two years. Finally, Lincoln Properties acquired Fairview Town Center and began a massive redevelopment plan that continues to unfold. Existing space has been redesigned to provide smaller retail spaces and a spate of new tenants have signed on including Sleep Number Store, 24-Hour Fitness, Destination Wine Bar, Elliott’s Hardware, Bowlero entertainment, a Race Trac gas station and convenience store with many others still being constructed and recruited. None of this would be possible without the involvement of the CDC and EDC.
Council members were also briefed on plans underway to develop over 400 acres of additional commercial development apart from the Fairview Town Council north and along Highway 5.
The Fairview Town Council meets next on Mon., Jul. 8 at 7:30 p.m. at Council Chambers in Town Hall. The meeting would have ordinarily taken place during the week of the 4th of July and has been moved several days ahead so as not to conflict.