In 2001, UC Davis fashioned a plan to provide home ownership opportunities for faculty and staff and additional housing for students. What began as a simple idea by the university almost a decade ago will come to fruition next fall with a new, 130-acre housing development in west Davis.
West Village, a joint venture of Carmel Partners of San Francisco and Urban Villages-Davis of Denver, will aim to bring environmental sustainability and community living to the forefront of the university.
“We are excited after many years to see this project expand the residential options for UC Davis in new and innovative ways,” said Nolan Zail, senior vice president of development for Carmel Partners, in a press release.
The complex, a $280 million privately funded project, is located on campus land west of Highway 113 and south of Russell Boulevard. It will provide students and university employees with housing, a civic square and a 15,000 square foot entertainment, fitness, recreation and technology facility called The Center, among other amenities.
“We have worked to ensure West Village has a unique quality of place for its residents and provides a great environment to live, work and play,” Zail said. “This project is all about community.”
Along with the goal of fostering a sense of community, West Village also sits on the cusp of environmental sustainability research. A $1.99 million grant from the Public Interest Energy Research Program of the California Energy Commission will allow the village to examine renewable energy sources such as solar, biogas and fuel cell technologies as well as energy conservation measures. This is unprecedented, said Sid England, assistant vice chancellor for Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability.
“To try to do something like that on a scale of a neighborhood like this is something we haven’t done before,” England said. “[It’s] a big step in trying to be as energy efficient as we can.”
Zail said these modern advances factored into the design of West Village.
“West Village has a high level of environmental sensibility and sensitivity, both high and low tech, incorporated into the design and architecture,” Zail said. “We believe these features will be a good fit with UC Davis students, who embrace green technology and lifestyle.”
The village’s website specifies certain innovations that will help to uphold its green mission.
West Village integrates sustainable design to enable those living in the neighborhood to reduce their reliance on automobiles, limit energy consumption and enjoy the benefits of the local climate in a healthy environment, according to the website.
Beginning Fall 2011, the community will open 315 student apartments that will house 850 people. Ramble Apartments, situated between the Village Square and Highway 113, will open 200 units while Viridian Apartments, built around the square, will add 125 units.
Half of an additional 345 apartment units with space for 1,130 people are slated to open in 2012 with the rest scheduled to be available the following year.
This takes care of students’ accommodations. However, West Village is also intended to fit the lifestyle of the university’s employees. Used as a tool to recruit and keep top faculty and staff members, 343 single-family residences will be offered at a price of about $400,000 each, below the market for comparable homes in Davis. They will be finished at the end of 2011 and available for purchase early the subsequent year.
“We are trying to create a balanced community in a mixed area but not in zones,” said John Meyer, vice chancellor of Administrative and Resource Management. “We really wanted more of a mixed-use community of not only faculty and staff but community college students, and to retain college town benefits.”
In addition to housing units, West Village will also serve as a host to the first community college extension built on a UC campus. The Los Rios Community College District will open the doors of the $12.4 million Davis Center to more than 2,000 students in January 2012.
The extension is designed as a way to streamline the transition from community college to a four-year university, said Chancellor Linda Katehi.
“We are working on making the journey between community college and the University of California seamless, so that those students with a goal of attending the university find bridges and not barriers,” Katehi said in a June press release.
According to Google Maps, the north most part of the village isn’t more than a mile from any major area on campus, so traveling to and from shouldn’t pose a problem. Unitrans, however, has addressed any transportation concerns with the implementation of the V line, which will begin at the Silo terminal, go down Hutchison Drive and provide service around the Village Square.
The line will begin running next fall on a half-hourly basis but may increase trips depending on demand and the completion of the final phase of the village, said Geoff Straw, general manager of Unitrans. Other amenities are likely to be employed such as shelter for bus riders and a way to determine arrival and departure times.
“We’re planning to put in passenger protection – a shelter or nearby building – that will provide shade and rain protection,” Straw said. “We also plan to put in high technology arrival information like the one across the Amtrak by Tres Hermanas at H and Second Street in downtown [Davis].”
The bus route schedule for the V line will be released in August, when Unitrans regularly prints its yearly run times.
Students and faculty interested in acquiring housing at West Village for the 2011-2012 academic year can go to the development’s temporary leasing space at 409 Third St. in downtown starting next year. Pricing for West Village’s units will not be available until 2011.
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