If all goes according to plan, the Davis Joint Unified School District may soon sell its surplus property at the Grande School Site in North Davis.
After decades of ownership, DJUSD has finally achieved a tenable design for the 8.83 acre property in collaboration with City Council and surrounding neighbors.
A proposed 41-unit subdivision will eventually sit at the south side of the intersection of Grande Avenue and Mercedes Avenue after it is sold to one or more developers in order to create much-needed revenue for improving school district facilities, which DJUSD estimates will cost approximately $20 million.
A total of 27 market-rate lots from 4,736 to 7,602 square feet, six middle-income lots from 4,660 to 5,131 square feet and eight low-income lots from 4,095 to 5,428 square feet will be included. District employees will have preference to the 14 middle- to low-income lots.
Since 2005 the city council, school district and the Grande Neighborhood Association have worked closely together to develop an amenable plan that would be comparable to the surrounding area.
District representative for the project Tom Lumbrazo said the project is a model instance of collaboration between the district, the city and local residents.
“We’ve been working with the neighborhood for well over a year and a half, trying to get a plan that meets the issues of the neighborhood and the city and achieves the goals of the district,” he said. “With the help of the city we’ve been able to structure targeted housing for teachers and staff.“
Once sold, the revenue from the project will raise funds for existing district facilities, while the lottery system will favor district employees and possibly others employed in Davis.
“This is a culmination of a long, long period of work,“ said Mayor Pro-Tem Don Saylor. “The beauty of this is it’s a win-win-win situation for the neighborhood, the district and the city. We have the potential to assist the district in leveraging an asset they have had for decades to help them to address the mission they have, to provide great schools to educate our children.“
Having worked on the project since 1995, Saylor said this is one of the better opportunities the city has had to make a decision.
Although the project might have been completed several years ago, School Board member Tim Taylor said he feels the extra time was well worth it to satisfy all those involved.
“This is a lesson in doing things the right way,” he said. “There were disenfranchised individuals and groups that rightly or wrongly felt abused by the process, and so the city and district together stepped backwards with the neighbors and the greater community … now we’re at the point where we can all say we did it the right way.“
Residents and members of the Grande Neighborhood Association were generally supportive of the plan, but pushed for greater consistency in the design plans with the surrounding neighborhoods.
Davis residents fought for a development agreement which now includes shorter construction hours, greenbelt improvements, a safer bicycle path and the addition of a community garden similar to the one on Fifth Street, all of which were unanimously approved at the December 16 City Council meeting.
Councilmember Sue Greenwald said she is excited about the prospect of a second community garden.
“I think we’ve lost that special thing that every neighborhood used to have,” she said. “Even a tiny little token like this is what makes Davis neighborhoods special … it’s a place where neighbors can get to know each other.“
Apart from the community-building aspect and enhanced appearance of the entrance to the subdivision, the garden space will also contain a new bicycle path which would have intersected with Grande under a previous plan, creating a much safer byway for bikers.
Barring any unforeseen difficulties, the memorandum of understanding should be completed by the end of January, which would allow DJUSD to start seeking developers.
In total, the project is expected to have a modest negative fiscal impact of approximately $6,000 per year for the city in additional costs above projected revenues.
AARON BRUNER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.