By Michael ( G to the G) Goodgold, REA President
Have you ever devoted 10 years of your life to making one thing happen?
In today’s culture of instant gratification, it’s extremely rare to find committed, visionary people who pour time and hard work into a long-term project. I had the privilege of taking a stroll with one of Wittek Development’s Senior Executives, Steve Curtain, around the intensely active development site that is soon to be “Fairfield Metro Center.” I was impressed by his tenacity in the building of this complex.
During my hour and a half walk of the site, Steve shared many of the challenges that were involved in transforming a large-scale, mixed-use project from renderings to reality.
To start off, the bar was set extremely high for the project.
The center consists of 860,000 square feet of LEED-certified, high performance office space in 4 buildings and is set on top of a brand new train station in Fairfield, CT. In addition to that, there is 60,000 sf of retail space, a full-service Hilton Hotel, and an 11-acre waterfront nature preserve, complete with walking trails and a boardwalk.
But what’s even more impressive is the vision for the project—the philosophy behind the construction. Building such a huge complex is not just the work of numbers on the balance sheet, but a real, fundamental change in the lives and jobs of people working there.
Steve explained the importance of balance and its relationship to high performance for the employees working at the Fairfield Metro Center. Being located on a train station allows people to avoid choking gas prices and never-ending traffic on I-95, since they don’t have to use their cars. Steve spoke about getting the retail component right by orchestrating a “smart” tenant mix that empowers people in their day-to-day lives. The nature preserve and walking areas give people a chance to enjoy a balanced lifestyle by giving them the option of exercise and fresh air. The full-service hotel also adds to the equation by offering a full range of services that high-performing companies require.
Everyone sees the product of this hard work in the beautiful hotel, nature preserve and finished complex – but only a few truly understand the trials and tribulations the builders first endured before reaching that polished and finished stage. Steve offered me real insight into the challenges the team faced, including pulling through the economic downturn. It taught me that commitment means staying true to that goal through all the ups and downs, being resourceful, and simply never giving up. And in the end, unflagging commitment leads to success in high-quality products and performance.
The Wittek team was committed to a clearly defined vision, and held tight to it for over 10 years. Yet during the process, Steve never discussed the “success” his firm was sure to reap from their efforts – what was most important for him was the difference this project would make to the community. He was more concerned with improving the quality of life for each office worker who was located there. My hat is off to Steve and the Wittek team: developers with vision and substance beyond the quick financial score, with a strong sense of commitment that matches their altruistic philosophy.
*****I just added some renderings so that everyone can get a true sense of how special this project is – the construction photos fall short of capturing the vision.
Please see below.