In and Around Fairfield Metro, One of the Fastest Growing Stations in CT

We take you inside the plans for the Fairfield Metro, soon to be Fairfield–Black Rock, Train Station—and the area around it—in our next installment of our All Aboard series.

In and Around Fairfield Metro, One of the Fastest Growing Stations in CT
The Fairfield Metro Station is getting a new name, and there's new development taking place around it. (Photo by Kelly Prinz)

Fairfield Metro Station, which will soon be called Fairfield–Black Rock, is the newest train station to come to southwest Connecticut. It’s also at the heart of Fairfield's plans to create “a cohesive, distinctive district that enhances the Town’s tax base.”

Let’s take a look at the station itself and the plans for development around it as a part of our All Aboard series, which takes you in and around train stations in the region. 

A New Name

When the station opened in 2011, it was intended to help “encourage the use of mass transit,” in both Fairfield and neighboring Bridgeport. Because the full-service station is located between the two municipalities, and has many riders from the nearby Black Rock neighborhood in Bridgeport, state and local officials announced in March that its new name will be the Fairfield–Black Rock Station. 

“The name change will more clearly indicate to the public the communities being served by rail service,” a statement from CTDOT said. “Along with the name change, additional pedestrian safety improvements will soon be underway at the station.”

Officials also hope the name change will clear up confusion between the Fairfield Station, which is located in the town’s downtown section, and Fairfield Metro.

“Renaming this station will limit any public confusion about when and where they need to be to catch their train,” CTDOT Commissioner Garrett Eucalitto said in a statement. “With added pedestrian safety features also getting underway, the Fairfield-Black Rock station will continue serving as a vital transportation hub.” 

The improvements include making the parking lot at the station “safer for pedestrians walking to the station or parking and walking to the platforms,” according to CTDOT. That includes adding new concrete ramps at the street and mid-lot sidewalks, and a new pedestrian walkway from the street to the platform area.

The Fairfield Metro Station will soon be the Fairfield–Black Rock Station. (Photo by Kelly Prinz)

Transit Oriented Plans

Those improvements come at a time when the area around the station is seeing more development, which is part of the town’s plans for this part of Fairfield. In 2019, the town completed a Transit Oriented Development study that reviewed the area around Fairfield Metro and Fairfield stations. 

“At Fairfield Metro, transit-oriented development could transform the station area into a mixed-use neighborhood,” the study noted. “Walkable multifamily residential and mixed-use development can create a cohesive, distinctive district that enhances the Town’s tax base.” 

This type of development has been an emphasis for the area since the station opened in 2011. 

“The Town of Fairfield completed the Commerce Drive Area Study over two years of planning for redevelopment of the land around the station area with the Regional Plan Association,” according to the TOD study. “The process established a vision for transit-oriented development that would include a mix of transit-supportive uses; encourage walking, bicycling, and transit use; and promote economic growth and a high density of jobs and residents near the station.”

Some initial growth happened with the Trademark and Alto buildings on the New York-bound side of the station. Trademark brought 101 apartments and more than 15,000 square feet of neighborhood retail space in 2017, while Alto added 160 apartments and more than 13,000 square feet of neighborhood retail in a new building.

The town had “updated its zoning in the area to allow for a higher density of commercial, residential, and mixed-uses to capitalize on the anticipated development interest that would accompany the new Fairfield Metro train station,” the study found.

Some of those infrastructure improvements included eight new traffic signals, six new dedicated turn lanes, three added lanes, and multiple adjustments to existing signals, signal timing, and lane markings. 

But some of the bigger plans for the area fell through due to changing market conditions, the study noted, and then the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“A major development proposal for large-scale office development was approved for the immediate station area,” the study stated. “Significant infrastructure and roadway improvements were completed in anticipation of this development, but the long-term effects of the Great Recession and the sluggish market for office development in intervening years have continued. To date, none of the proposed one million sf of office space in the Metro Center project has been developed.” 

That’s why the study recommended the town work toward “an updated vision of transit-oriented development” in the Fairfield Metro area that would “best achieve Town goals for a thriving, revenue-generating area.” 

Courtesy of Fairfield

New Plans for Fairfield–Black Rock

One of the biggest projects—The Crossings at Fairfield Metro—officially broke ground in 2022, after about 20 years of planning. The project is located along the New Haven-bound side of the station, south of Ash Creek Boulevard. 

The project was sold to Accurate—the third company to own the project—which prompted some skepticism by local officials at first. However, after the company finally broke ground on the long-awaited project, many expressed their support. 

“One such project that I worked closely with our Economic Development Director was assisting in moving forward the long-awaited transit-oriented, mixed-use development, adjacent to the Fairfield Metro Center Train Station,” former First Selectwoman Brenda Kupchick said in her 2023 State of the Town

The plans call for 357 new housing units, of which 20% will be affordable, a hotel, 70,000 square feet of commercial office space, and 40,000 square feet of retail space. 

“This project is expected to generate over $4 million in net new taxes per year upon full build-out which will be a huge boost to our community's tax base and to economic development,” Kupchick said. 

In addition to The Crossings, in February 2024, the Town Plan and Zoning Commission approved plans for 81 Black Rock Turnpike, located on the New Haven-bound side. The plans call for 245 housing units, of which about 30 will be affordable, as well as 6,000 square feet of co-working space, and improved pedestrian connections in the area.

The project is located close to Elicit Brewing, a new brewery that opened in 2023, which also brought a pedestrian walkway from the train station to their site. The plans for 81 Black Rock Turnpike plan to “increase connectivity and access for the public between Elicit Brewery, 81 Black Rock Turnpike and the Fairfield Metro Train Station, helping to create a more integrated district for the town and the public,” according to the application

Post Road Residential, the developer behind 81 Black Rock Turnpike, said that they are “passionate about the redevelopment opportunity,” since they are also based in Fairfield and are invested in the community. The developer said its goal is to “create a vibrant Transit Oriented Development district between Ash Creek Boulevard and Black Rock Turnpike that will augment Fairfield's residential offerings and appeal to current and future residents.”

Looking Ahead

State and local officials voiced their support for renaming the station and for the investments in the area that will help make it a transit-oriented community. 

“Renaming the station highlights the connection between two growing and thriving transit-oriented communities,” State Representative Cristin McCarthy Vahey, who represents Fairfield and Bridgeport, said in a statement. “The changes to the lot and the planned pedestrian bridge between Fairfield and Black Rock will result in improved safety and accessibility for all train riders.”

State Representative Steven Stafstrom, who represents Bridgeport, called the neighboring Black Rock neighborhood a “hidden gem,” and said he was glad that the “name change will illuminate it for residents and visitors alike.”

“Fairfield and Bridgeport commuters—as well as those coming to shop in and visit the Black Rock community—will benefit from the improved walkability and planned pedestrian safety improvements for this regional asset,” he said in a statement.

First Selectman Bill Gerber said in a statement the new name fits the growing area.

“I welcome the name change as it more clearly describes the location of the station,” he said. “Fairfield-Black Rock is a great name for an area that will continue to grow as a vibrant hub for social activity and a cool destination for residents and visitors alike.”

The work at the station is expected to take about three months.