My wife and I were early investors in Sustainable Fairview Associates (SFA), the group that took over the 275 acre former Fairview Training Center property.
We had high hopes that a model sustainable community would sprout in Salem—which sorely needs some Green pizzazz to offset this not-so-fair city's deservedly bland image.
As I said in my "We check out of Sustainable Fairview" post, about a year ago we sold our shares after a bittersweet and often frustrating relationship with the management of SFA. Nonetheless, we still had high hopes for the 246 remaining acres (one chunk was sold to Pringle Creek Community, which is doing a great job).
Yesterday the Salem Statesman Journal ran a front page story, "Fairview project is developing," about how things are coming along. The story began with:
Plans are taking shape to develop the former Fairview Training Center property into what is expected to be one of the largest mixed-use projects in Salem's recent history.
Pacific Development and Associates, a company owned by Portland-area developer Phil Morford, has submitted a preliminary site plan to the city for the proposed Fairview Village development at 2550 Strong Road SE. It calls for 816 single-family homes, both detached and attached, and open space on the southern portion of the 246-acre property.
The northern 96 acres is expected to include multi-family homes, retail and office space, a 5-acre park and sites for a school and possibly a YMCA, Morford said.
The entire property, which is bordered by Reed, Pringle and Strong roads SE, will comprise more than 1,650 residential units, Morford said. The amount of commercial space will be driven by the market.
Hmmmm. It seemed strange there wasn't any mention of "sustainable" in the first four paragraphs. That came later, but it was telling that the reporter didn't focus on the sustainability aspects of Morford's plans.
I suspect that's because he's emphasizing the mixed use character of Fairview Village—which has to be one of the most uncreative names Morford could have chosen. Four years ago I did much better. But, hey, if you pay more than $21 million for a property, you get to name it however you want.
What I'm more disturbed about is the site plan that accompanied the newspaper story. Wow! That's a lot of dwelling units and not much green space. Excellent for maximizing developer profit. Not so good for other reasons.
Here's how the Sustainable Fairview Associates Master Plan looked. A lot different. Now there's no "The Woods." Nor, "The Orchards." These are beautiful parts of the property with many trees. Which apparently will be chopped down so more homes can be crammed in.
It looks like wildlife corridors also have been sacrificed. I sat through quite a few SFA meetings at which the notion of allowing wild furry creatures a safe way to get around the development was passionately argued for. Last I knew there were deer and lots of other wildlife on the 246 acres. They won't be happy with the current Fairview Village Plan.
Tony Nielsen is quoted in the story. He's a developer who was a principal in SFA and won a 1000 Friends of Oregon Citizen Award for keeping Oregon "livable and lovable."
Reading between the lines, I suspect he isn't wildly happy with Morford's site plan.
"We never expected a developer to come in with exactly our plan, so some modifications and adjustments are to be expected, but the general principals we hope will be applied," he said. "They may be applied in variations or in different shades, but we have high hopes that it will be a great neighborhood."
Well, me too. But at first sight, Fairview Village isn't looking all that Green to me.