Construction begins on Fairfield Metro’s Accurate project

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FAIRFIELD — For almost 20 years, there has been a project to develop a hotel, offices and commercial spaces in the vicinity of the Fairfield underground station.

But it wasn’t until Monday that those long-awaited plans — along with the addition of hundreds of apartments — took a big step toward becoming a reality on Ash Creek Boulevard.

Jack Klugmann, president and founder of Accurate in New Jersey, which bought the property earlier this year, said his company has made many different strides, but he and his colleagues are rarely thrilled to be there. to assist.

“Here we felt it was not just important,” he said. “It was something we wanted to do. We’re going to do this project. I wanted to share that excitement and that enthusiasm that we have.”

Shovels dug into the dirt as city and state officials, along with Accurate developers, marked the start of work on the Fairfield subway station mixed-use project. The development aims to build 357 apartments, a 118-room hotel, 70,000 square feet of office space and 40,000 square feet of retail space.

The location is bordered by open space and Ash Creek, with walking paths and is within walking distance of the row of restaurants at Black Rock as well as other shopping.

Klugmann said he likes the location of the project, calling the passage of a train the best convenience the development will have. He said the company plans to stay after the mixed-use development is completed to operate and maintain it.

“We’re not going anywhere,” he said. “We are part of your community.”

First head coach Brenda Kupchick said she was “incredibly excited” to get the project started. She indicated that she was participating in the representative municipal assembly when the city reached an agreement with the state and a real estate developer.

“Twenty years ago, and it’s happening,” she said.

Kupchick said she and other city officials were skeptical when Klugmann, the project’s third developer, came on the scene. But, she says, other cities that have worked with Accurate have given them rave reviews.

Kupchick said she told Klugmann she wanted a hotel rooftop bar, and he said he would make it happen. She said development is a big problem for the city.

“It’s the biggest property that hasn’t been developed,” she said. “I can’t wait to see this built. I can’t wait to have a cocktail at the rooftop bar with anyone who wants to join me.”

It’s been nearly two decades since Blackrock Realty proposed a massive development around Fairfield Third Station with the aim of making it a hub of commuter activity and shopping. Originally proposed in 2005, the development was to consist of approximately 1 million square feet of primarily office space with a mix of retail and hotel elements.

The developers had wanted to pre-let much of the office space before starting construction. They eventually discovered that demand for this space dried up after the economy collapsed around 2008.

As a result, Blackrock Realty’s plans went through a series of revisions as developers tried to find the best use of space. Among the changes were proposals for a five-story, 197-unit apartment building.

Development of the site has long been a matter of debate among Fairfield officials who say the site, the former smelter off Black Rock Turnpike, has been dormant for too long.

Blackrock Realty contributed $5.4 million towards the construction of the station in exchange for the rights to build its initial commercial and residential project connected to the station.

Klugmann said there would be no delays to the project like there were under previous developers, noting that they had their permits and had started work. He said development took so long to kick off due to the number of parts and moving parts involved.

He expects one of the five apartment buildings to be completed first.

“It’s hard to pull off such a big project,” he said, adding that Accurate will do the job. “We’ve done it in other places. We hope to have our first (certificate of occupancy) in about 12 to 14 months.”

Joshua.LaBella@hearstmediact.com

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