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Saturday, April 20, 2024

DiSC 2022 recommended for city council approval

Innovation Park may be heading to another vote 

By RACHEL SHEY city@theaggie.org

On Jan. 12, the Davis Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend that the city council approve the new Davis Innovation and Sustainability Campus, or “DiSC 2022.” The new project, which will be built in the “Mace Triangle,” has been revised to occupy a smaller space, reducing from 194 to 102 acres. Most of that reduction is in housing units and office space. Retail has remained largely intact. Otherwise, the project is largely untouched, according to Principal Planner Sherri Metzker.

“It’s pretty much the same project except it’s about half the size of what it was, and the bike undercrossing is no longer part of the original proposal,” Metzker said.

Opponents of the plan are concerned about traffic problems that the new development would create. Metzker explained that there are many traffic mitigations required for the builders of the project. 

“There’s some bike improvements that they have to build, and they’re required to build a new bike lane on the inside of the Mace Curve,” Metzker said. “We did an analysis of the project as if you could wave a magic wand and the whole thing would suddenly appear, to figure out what they would need at full build-out. As each project comes in, they’re required to do a study to say what has to be built to meet traffic requirements.”

Some are also worried that the retail components of the new project will take away customers of Davis downtown, leading to decreased foot traffic in the downtown area. Principal Officer and Treasurer of “No on Measure B” Alan Pryor was concerned that while the housing and office space has been halved, the projected retail was only reduced by 20%. 

“That 80,000 square feet of retail is a big concern,” Pryor said. “That’s going to be devastating to the downtown, which is already reeling from COVID-19. We’ve had dozens of businesses shut down there that have yet to reopen. This is simply going to cannibalize that. DiSC will generate 130,000 square feet of empty office and retail space. That would be devastating to our downtown and our hotel industry.”

Metzker said that the new retail is designed to serve those working in the campus. 

“We’ve had to do an urban decay analysis, and the study does not show any evidence that the new retail will cannibalize Davis downtown,” Metzker said. “The commercial in that area is meant to serve the folks who are working in the DiSC. It isn’t as though the businesses in the downtown area are there to serve a specific type of end-user. The idea is that there might be a coffee shop in DiSC so folks don’t have to go all the way downtown to get a cup of coffee.”

Metzker also noted that the developers are unable to promise that the residential units will be filled by those who work in the campus, but they agreed to stipulations that hope to sync up the building of the residential units with the creation of the office space. 

“The best the developer has been able to commit to is to meter the amount of residential they can build,” Metzker said. “They can only build one residential unit for every 2,000 square feet of nonresidential that they’re building. In other words, they can’t just run out there and build all the residential first because that’s the thing most people are most interested in and the market would sell them real quick. It meters the residential building so that it’s more synced up with the building on the nonresidential side.”

Pryor pointed out that the project is still anticipated to increase Davis traffic by 5% and suggested alternative projects that might not cause the same degree of traffic gridlock.

We’ve still got a hundred acres and there’s going to be 12,000 cars a day going on Mace Boulevard,” Pryor said. “I think they have to seriously start looking at some major infill possibilities that are closer to the train stations so you can get mass transit in there from over the causeway and some type of enhanced bus transport. They say they’re going to add a free shuttle that runs from 2nd Street, but they won’t commit to making that an electric shuttle. And the developer is selling us hope and a prayer backed only by his promise.” 

Written by: Rachel Shey — city@theaggie.org

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