About a year ago I blogged about a planned housing development on the old Fairview property in south Salem. The title expressed my optimism: "Fairview Addition -- looks like a cool Salem residential development."
Impressed with Olsen Design & Development's design philosophy, which is closely aligned with New Urbanism, at the home show where Fairview Addition was first revealed I wrote a check to reserve two lots.
With some tongue-in-cheek caveats, as I noted in the blog post.
Having drunk way too much whiskey, consumed too many drugs, and gotten way too little sleep in the days prior to visiting the Home Show, I bizarrely found myself writing a check to Amerititle for a deposit that reserves the right to purchase two lots at Fairview Addition.
I'm saying this to bolster my already-solid case for backing out of the deal if Laurel and I change our minds; the Design Reservation form says "Because of the early stages of this Development either party may withdraw from this Design Reservation for any reason by requesting such termination in Salem, Oregon where funds will be held."
We aren't ready to move from our non-easy-care ten acres in rural south Salem yet, as noted in my first post about Olsen Development. But I also really liked the idea of getting in on the ground floor, so to speak, of Fairview Addition.
A few days ago Eric Olsen emailed us and asked if we'd like to have a look at the development, including our two lots. Replying, sure, that very afternoon we met Eric at Fairview -- wisely making sure to bring some sturdy shoes.
Because even though tall blackberries and other brush have been cleared from the area on the top left of the development map above, berry vines are still lying on the ground. We could easily walk over them, though, to the two lots we'd reserved adjacent to The Woods.
My first question for Olsen was, "What's up with The Woods?"
This is a 14 acre wooded (obviously) parcel that Fairview Addition wraps around. Last April a Statesman Journal newspaper story said it would be preserved as open space by Sustainable Fairview Associates, which sold 50 acres to Olsen for the Fairview Addition development.
Download Developer wants to build 225 houses at Fairview site
Eric told us that some things have changed, but there was still a chance that The Woods would be left in its natural state. If not, the 14 acres would be minimally developed at low density.
So that was reassuring.
My wife and I aren't certain that we want to leave our current home anytime soon. Part of what attracted us to consider Fairview Addition as a place to move to was The Woods, along with other open space on and near the Fairview property.
If, or when, we do move, Eric Olsen is our kind of developer. Low-key, easy to talk with, straightforward, environmental, clued in to the benefits of "front porch communities," his specialty.
On the Fairview Addition web page, this drawing gives a rough feel for what its first phase will look like. Pringle Road runs along the top, below the "North." A new road, Strong Road, will be a collector street for Fairview Addition, extending through the rest of Fairview, I believe.
I'm pretty sure "our" lots are in the bottom left. You can see that The Woods' 14 acres wraps around two sides of the corner lot, as also shown in the other map. The street in front of the lots ends in a cul-de-sac. No garages would face the street, just front porches.
Narrow alley ways along the back of Fairview Addition homes is where the owners' cars would go and be parked. Nice. Autos deemphasized; walking and biking emphasized: one of the tenets of New Urbanism.
Olsen told us that "tiny houses" of 450 square feet will be built on Fairview Addition green spaces. Not in a cluster, but one here, one there. I wasn't aware that the City of Salem was allowing tiny houses. It's great that Fairview Addition will have some.
(I got excited about living in a tiny house until my wife said, "You're going to be there by yourself. Plus, you wouldn't even be able to fit your books into one." Good points. Guess I'll pass on that idea.)
All in all, we came away impressed with what Eric Olsen is planning for Fairview Addition.
Salem isn't known for cutting-edge urban design, to put it mildly. Traditional subdivisions are the norm for this town. It's like Salem is stuck in the 1950's and '60s when it comes to new development.
Two or three car garages facing the street. Little sense of neighborliness, walkability, or sense of community. Olsen is trying to break that pattern, bringing together the best of older Salem neighborhoods (which also have front porches and alleys) with modern construction techniques.
My wife and I aren't wild about the unadorned Craftsman home style. Fortunately, Olsen told us that his company is amenable to customizing their standard designs. In fact, he said, most of the early Fairview Addition lot purchasers are wanting to do just that.
We talked a bit with him about how, if we built on the two lots we've put a deposit down on, it would make sense to have the main living area face The Woods, rather than the street. Which raised the question of what would face the street. Bedrooms? Kitchen? Unconventional, but possible.
So... we've got to do more pondering about what we want to do, house-wise. It's good to know, though, that Fairview Addition is looking like the cool development that I first thought it would be.
If you want to learn more about Fairview Addition, check out the City of Salem's web page about the development, the Fairview Addition refinement plan (of the original Fairview Master Plan), and a positive Salem Breakfast on Bikes blog post about Fairview Addition.