The River Oaks development in Stamford is an example of the New Canaan-based Fieber Group’s effort to preserve and enhance the natural environment surrounding its construction.

The recent recipient of eight Home Building Industry awards, the New Canaan-based Fieber Group has functioned as a family-run business for more than 80 years.

Commuting from Stamford to New York City, Norman Fieber worked at the remodeling company that his father had started in 1935 with moderate success. But, as the story goes, it wasn’t until his wife and the wife of his future business partner, Alvan Lampke, bumped into each other in a Connecticut supermarket that the Fieber Group began to broaden its vision.

“The initial work my father was doing was more focused on brownstone conversions and fit-out work in Manhattan,” said James Fieber, who has since taken over the role of director of acquisitions and investment properties. “Then when he met Alvan, who had recently graduated from the architecture school at Rhode Island School of Design, they did a lot of residential subdivisions of some magnitude and their focus was on value-based single-family housing.

“They moved the business to Connecticut and formed a partnership that would last for some 25 years,” he added.

Through its years of experience in the realm of construction and development, the Fieber Group has continued to consistently develop as a company. “The business has changed tremendously over the years,” said Fieber. “It’s a very unusual company. We’ve done everything from federally funded low income housing up to the most expensive homes in Greenwich. We also have developed multifamily low- and high-rise planned residential communities, as well as single-family subdivisions and luxury homes. We really span the whole spectrum.”

Beginning with the arrival of Robert Fieber in the late 1970s, Norman Fieber’s sons not only joined the family business, but immediately began to further develop it with their respective experience in other fields. Upon their father’s retirement, the company that he had created half a century prior was thriving under his sons’ leadership.

“When my brother Bob joined in the company in 1978, he had interest in multifamily homes. So, with new blood, came new ideas,” said Fieber. “Condos were just becoming popular in the suburbs and he concentrated on multifamily projects. When my other brother [William Fieber] joined in [the early ’80s], he was very interested in architecture and innovative construction. Then we started getting involved more on the high end.”

Though the eldest of the sons, James Fieber was the last to enter the company, joining in 1986. “I had worked at a large international law firm in Manhattan. With my experience, I was more interested in the commercial aspect of the company. Now, basically what I’m running is the real estate private equity side of the business. I have a staff and a property management group that works for me and helps support the real estate private equity side of things,” said Fieber. “It works well. The profits from the construction side feed the real estate private equity side.

“Now there are two distinct sides to the company – real estate development and construction and private equity,” he added.

Through the Fieber Group’s development and acquisition of greater assets, it has raised the bar in terms of the quality of its projects. With a staff of about 30 people in management, the company’s high ambitions let it typically focus on six or seven projects at a time.

“Our focus has shifted in the last 10 years,” said Fieber. “Now we concentrate much more on what I consider an upper-end market segment. In terms of the homes we’re building now in New Canaan or Greenwich, the least expensive is around $3 million and goes up to $15 million. We’re also doing higher-end homes in Stamford for around $1.9 million. Even our development up in Watertown is higher-end, with condos pricing at $400,000, and which is [a lower price] but for Watertown that’s upper-end.

“Wherever the marketplace is we’re trying to reach and create a more sophisticated home. Though value-based, we’re still a notch above what else is out there,” he added.

Despite its tremendous financial success, the Fieber Group still makes an effort to strike a balance between the preservation of land and its developments. An example of its effort to preserve and enhance the natural environment surrounding its construction is the River Oaks project in Stamford.

“Because of the land’s extraordinary attributes, we were able to come up with a fairly unique development plan, after studying the property over a long period of time, rather than to just do a conventional subdivision,” said Fieber. “We were able to [enhance] the area’s significant environmental assets. Over 40 percent of the project is open space. We were able to preserve the river corridor, as well as the land around the pond and also we were able to protect the adjacent property with a nice buffer.”

“And we’re creating all of these amenities at no cost to the city,” he added.

The company looks at its focus on preservation as giving back to the community. “We have had a history of making a very good living from the land but also giving back to the communities we work in where we’re able to do so,” Fieber said.

The Fieber Group isn’t a newcomer to industry praise and recognition, but last year won an unprecedented number of HOBI awards. “We’ve won three or four a year for a fairly long period and other awards from other industry groups, but we really had an extraordinarily outstanding 2004 to 2005,” said Fieber. “We weren’t just economically successful but we had the opportunity to be involved with some really special projects. That really transcended the awards.”