Major housing project to begin at North Campus Village

Developer Martin Brett of Vastu Partners LLC plans to resume home construction in North Campus Village now that the Fairfield City Council has approved the plat for Phase 5 of his development project, which it did Monday night.

North Campus Village is a subdivision project just off North B Street which began in 2002. About 60 units were built during four phases of construction, which came to a halt in about 2010 thanks to the recession. However, the market has improved since then to the point Brett feels comfortable adding 45 residences to the subdivision, which he plans to do over a period of three years beginning next year.

After the recession, Vastu Partners LLC reorganized into a leaner company, Brett said, focused on building homes at the lower price range. At that same time, the city of Fairfield introduced incentives to build low- and moderate-income housing.

?We have a great neighborhood that is an attractive location, and combined with the city?s incentives, we feel we have the right place and its the right time to go forward with more housing,? he said.

The 45 new residences built as part of the Phase 5 development will be a mixture of multi-family and single-family homes, similar to the first four phases. Brett said Phase 5 will have a higher percentage of multi-family buildings than the earlier phases. It will include side-by-side town homes, duplexes and a large multi-family building with an elevator.

Town homes abut one another but each one has its own front entrance. Brett said some people like that feeling of independence, while others to prefer a common entrance where they get to see their neighbors more often.

?I think the building with the elevator will appeal to a lot of people who are getting older and who don?t want stairs to be a normal part of their life,? he said.

Brett said Phase 5 was part of the master plan when the development began in 2002. He said he?s excited to be able to follow through on that original plan. At Monday?s city council meeting, he told the council Phase 5 was only possible because of the tax incentives from the state. He credited Fairfield Economic Development Association director Adam Plagge and the city with doing a great of making it easy for developers to apply for the tax credits and to supply information to the state about the dire need for housing in town.

One incentive from the state is the workforce housing tax incentive, which developers are eligible for provided they sell the homes under a certain amount of money and they can prove the community needs that type of housing. The other is tax increment financing, whereby the future property taxes are reduced on the improved portion of the property.

?It?s hard for little developers like me to apply for projects like this because they require so many studies,? he said. ?The city put the studies together that FEDA did, and defined the level of housing it wants. Adam Plagge was instrumental in pulling together the study and the actual market prices that need to be targeted for all developers to use when they apply for these things. He set this up so developers could do this. That?s a really big thing. It?s one thing for the city to be gateway, it?s another thing to say, ?We?ll give you the tools to do it.??

All of the buildings in Phase 5 will be Vastu homes just like all the others in the subdivision. Brett plans to start building some of the homes now, but he?ll wait until spring to do the major landscaping such as installing sewers and extending the existing roads.

?We think we?ll build about 15 units per year,? he said.

Phase 5 is located on a patch of land that was once two ball diamonds built in the 1990s for Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment. A grass fire earlier this year burned two of the dugouts and some construction supplies at the site but other than that the fire did not damage any of the homes in the area.