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Michael Rose, Statesman Journal | 6:36 a.m. PDT September 3, 2014

All seems quiet at the former Fairview Training Center site, a home for developmentally disabled people for nearly 100 years, but activity has begun to stir behind the scenes.

The 275-acre Fairview Training Center site is bordered by Reed, Pringle and Strong roads. The state institution closed in 2000 and the property was sold to private owners.

Here’s an update on Fairview.

Another park for Salem?

Sustainable Fairview Associates, owner of a large chunk of Fairview, recently offered to sell 35 acres to the city for park.

Public records — a city email sent to a neighborhood association — show that Salem City Council rejected the proposal in an executive session. The property owner, however, hopes the council will reconsider its decision.

“I have not given up on that, and I’m pretty sure the neighborhood association hasn’t given up,” said Sam Hall, a principal with Sustainable Fairview Associates.

Peter Fernandez, the city’s public works director, told the Morningside Neighborhood Association that city staff was in favor of buying the land for a community park, according to a July 31 email.

The property in question is known as “the crescent” and includes a group of long-vacant buildings along Strong Road SE.

But Fernandez’s email also noted that Salem City Council didn’t give staff permission to pursue the purchase after a presentation in executive session. The council is allowed to discuss certain matters, including proposed real estate deals, in closed door meetings.

Fernandez, in a recent interview, said the council had concerns about how the proposed park at “the crescent” would fit into the Fairview Master Plan’s objectives. The original plan called for the area to become a “town center” for Fairview’s mixed-use development, he said.

Old buildings coming down, new project advances

Meanwhile, Sustainable Fairview Associates is moving forward with demolishing the Smith, Kozer, Chamberlain and Withycombe buildings.

A demolition permit for the dormitories has been finalized, city officials said. The buildings are in poor condition, but the primary reason for removing them now is related to local homebuilder Eric Olsen’s plans for another part of Fairview.

A property line runs through two of the buildings. Getting rid of the buildings and adjusting a lot line will clear the way for the homebuilder’s land purchase.

Olsen told the Statesman Journal in May that he intended to buy a 50-acre portion of Fairview, south of Leslie Middle School, along Pringle Road SE.

In the next few weeks, Oslen said, he intends to present his “refinement plan” for the property to the city.

Olsen wants to build a 225-lot housing project. The builder said he would close on the real estate deal once he gets the necessary approvals from the city’s planning commission.

His company, Olsen Design and Development Inc., is best known for its Edward’s Addition housing project in Monmouth. It’s a “new urbanism” development, which places an emphasis on pedestrian-friendly streets, houses with porches in front and garages in back, and a diversity of home sizes and prices.

Construction of Olsen’s housing development at Fairview is expected to begin early next year, he said.

mrose@StatesmanJournal .com (503) 399-6657 or follow on Twitter @mrose_sj

More about Fairview

In the mid-1990s, the state decided to phase out the operations of the Fairview Training Center.

The Oregon Department of Administrative Services in 1999 recommended a list of objectives for the Fairview site’s redevelopment.

Community leaders in Salem wanted to see a high-quality, mixed-use development built on the property. A master plan was created for Fairview that lays out a general set of goals, such as maximizing open space and protecting natural areas.

In late 2004, the backers of Pringle Creek Community acquired about 32 acres of Fairview property. Pringle Creek Community has since grown into a small cluster of homes, with orchards and greenhouses. The community is known for its sustainable features, such as LEED-certified buildings and use of solar power.