August 20, 2005 | Page One | By Michael Rose

The project’s original developers will require that sustainable aspect be kept

The Salem group pushing to turn the former Fairview Training Center into a model for sustainable development is poised to let someone else take the lead. Sustainable Fairview Associates, which won the right to redevelop the property in 2002, is negotiating with a developer interested in taking over the project, company officials said.
Sustainable Fairview currently controls about 240 acres at the site, which served for almost 100 years as a state institution for developmentally disabled residents. The company, backed by 19 Salem residents and one Eugene resident, has advocated a new kind of real-estate development for Salem that has a lighter impact on the environment.

Sustainable Fairview’s Tony Nielsen and Sam Hall declined to identify the developer interested in Fairview, citing confidentially agreements. They did confirm that a deal was pending and could close within a month.

“After careful review, we have selected a group that we believe can carry the vision forward and implement a beautiful and sustainable new neighborhood in Salem,” Nielsen said.

“They could take over for us under the right circumstances, but all of this is pending and contingent,” Hall said.

If the deal moves forward, the developer would be required to adhere to Sustainable Fairview’s principles, he said.

Sustainable Fairview’s end game always has been to hand over the project to a developer after it had created a master plan for the property, Hall said. The group never intended to become full-time land developers, he said.

“We wanted to create a national, if not international model for sustainability,” Hall said. “Of course, part of that is you don’t lose your shirt while you’re doing it.”

They declined to give details about the deal.

By some estimates, the residential and commercial development planned for the Fairview site could cost as much as $350 million to build.

As many as 2,000 residential units have been proposed for the property, as well as nearby offices and stores to encourage walking rather than driving. Sustainable Fairview has even proposed onsite wastewater and storm-water treatment facilities.

One developer that currently is not in the running to build houses at Fairview is The Piculell Group, although it made an offer to buy the residential part of the project from Sustainable Fairview nine months ago.

“I’m not quite sure what they were looking for,” said Marty Peets, a partner in the Portland company, which develops residential projects primarily along the Interstate 5 corridor. The company met with Sustainable Fairview on a number of occasions, but was unable to strike a deal, he said.