Fairfield to reimburse business park project up to $500K as it adds hundreds of jobs

Work on the $50 million development known as Fairfield Commerce Park at the former Liberty Mutual property on Seward Road progresses. Property owner Ambrose Property Group aims to fill the employment void created by Liberty Mutual leaving Fairfield with hundreds of jobs. Ambrose Property plans to lease buildings to companies looking for space. Ambrose Property plans to build two new buildings with the possibility of others being built in the coming years. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
Work on the $50 million development known as Fairfield Commerce Park at the former Liberty Mutual property on Seward Road progresses. Property owner Ambrose Property Group aims to fill the employment void created by Liberty Mutual leaving Fairfield with hundreds of jobs. Ambrose Property plans to lease buildings to companies looking for space. Ambrose Property plans to build two new buildings with the possibility of others being built in the coming years. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

FAIRFIELD ― City Council agreed last week to reimburse the owner of the Fairfield Commerce Park up to $500,000 for public infrastructure improvements.

But payments for roadwork at two public intersections leading into the business park at 9450 Seward Road won’t be paid until funds are available in a recently approved tax increment financing district.

“We’ve been working at the staff level to coordinate and think out the public and private infrastructure that’s required to serve the development, required to serve the increased employees and the traffic at the site," said Fairfield Economic Development Manager Nathaniel Kaelin.

The business park is projected to bring 600 to 1,000 jobs to the city, said Fairfield and Ambrose officials.

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Ambrose Property Group broke ground in mid-July on the new 137-acre Fairfield Commerce Park, formerly known as the Liberty Mutual campus. Two industrial buildings will be completed in early 2021, and as many as three more buildings could be built on the site, according to company officials.

As part of the business park’s development, two intersections — Mercantile Drive at Seward Road and Northpointe Drive at Distribution Circle — will see improvements. Ambrose will install a turn lane, widen parts of Seward Road at Mercantile Drive and reconstruct Northpointe Drive at the southeast corner of the site to Distribution Circle.

Ambrose Property officials asked the city last week to reimburse the company for work in the public right-of-way from the recently approved Northeast Area TIF district. Improvements would serve a benefit to the city beyond the business park, said Kaelin.

According to the City Council-approved deal, Fairfield will reimburse up to 50 percent of the cost of the improvements, with a cap of $500,000. Ambrose Property will pay for the work upfront.

“It incentivizes the city and the developer as we work through those improvements to keep the costs low and as affordable as possible," Kaelin said.

TIF revenues that will be committed for reimbursement will only be generated from the Amborse site, so it’s "the development bearing the costs of these improvements.”

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The Northeast Area TIF District was one of two recently approved tax increment financing districts by the city. They are specialized districts within business areas of Fairfield.

When a TIF District is created, the taxable value of each property within the district is documented and all property tax revenues generated from this value continue to be collected and distributed in the same manner they were before the TIF District was created. A TIF fund is created and part of the revenue from any increased assessed values from real property improvements — such as construction or expansion of a building ― or general appreciation are deposited into the TIF fund to pay for new public infrastructure within the designated district.

Development Services Director Greg Kathman said TIF Districts are designed to be in place for decades, and “it will take a while to generate any sufficient funds," said Kathman.

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