Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Fairfield's central location ideal for business grow

Fairfield's central location ideal for business growth
By Brian Miller and Karl Dumas | | March 05, 2010 17:51
Fairfield's central Solano County location, economical lease rates and choice building inventory is proving to be a big plus in a regional economy struggling in many respects. Fairfield continues to attract interest from industrial companies and national and regional retail and restaurant operators who are still looking for new markets or expansion.

The Gateway/Westfield Solano mall area is the county's biggest shopping area and provides an important critical mass of customers needed by shopping, food and entertainment user to be successful. Westfield Solano alone receives more than 1 million monthly customer visits, and many of these visits spill over into the adjoining retail and restaurant venues.

If a national or regional retailer/restaurant is looking for a Solano County location, the Fairfield Gateway/Westfield Solano mall area is one of the most obvious choices. This appears to be especially true for the casual dining category, with Fairfield a hotspot for restaurant concepts.

Rumor has it that a well-known purveyor of fish tacos and authentic Mexican cuisine is headed to the former Baja Fresh site on Travis Boulevard (near Jamba Juice and Starbucks). After scouring several sites around town, the Westfield Solano location took top honors. Fish taco aficionados will have another local option.

Westfield Solano mall is also rumored to have signed a lease for a casual food/bar scene operator to locate on the back part of the mall. And from what we hear, the restaurant may have more than 250 seats and an outdoor dining area. Tenant improvements would take time to construct but the restaurant could potentially be open by summer.

This type of casual restaurant/sports bar concept may benefit from the proximity to the 24 Hour Fitness Center located a short walk away. The 24 Hour Fitness has been extremely popular, with membership tripling since moving from the old Travis Boulevard location. And people are hungry and thirsty after expending energy at the gym.

Reliable sources are also telling us that the currently vacant Marie Callender's space has a 'casual dining' national restaurant chain interested in the space. Nearby, the city's Redevelopment Agency recently agreed to terms on a new ground lease with Fresh Choice Restaurant so it could continue its operation at the corner of Travis and Gateway boulevards. The former Circuit City building is also abuzz with rumors of strong tenant interest.

Afghani food is also making its way to the Gateway area. The former restaurant space vacated by M&S Tasty Burgers (adjacent to Coldstone, Chipotle and Quiznos) will soon be home to Afghan Tandoor. The food can probably best be described as a combination of Indian and Persian and other central Asian cuisines, some of which are cooked in a Tandoor-type oven. Lovers of kebabs and rice dishes can rejoice.

We have written before about the Frank-Lin Distillers Products Ltd. project on Huntington Drive and Peabody Road but it is surely worth mentioning that they are getting statewide attention. The company has applied to use tax-exempt Recovery Zone Facility bonds to finance $22 million of its anticipated $34 million project for its 296,000-square-foot building.

And Fairfield's attraction to industrial users is also evident in the recent Cablecom occupancy of a building of about 45,000 square feet on Chadbourne Road. Cablecom is a leading cable network company that partners for Internet, analog and digital TV and phone services.

News broke last week about interest from a buyer looking to occupy the empty Ford dealership building, and now we hear rumors of interest from other companies looking at the former Chrysler building on Auto Mall Parkway. All this activity solidifies our memorable slogan: 'Fairfield, Heart of Solano County.'

Economic Notes is an update from Fairfield City Hall written by Brian Miller and Karl Dumas of the Fairfield Planning and Development Department. They can be contacted at 428-7461 or e-mail at kdumas@ci.fairfield.ca.us or bkmiller@ci.fairfield.ca.us.