Nishi Property Final Baseline Project Features

Staff presents baseline features on Tuesday
Staff presents baseline features on Tuesday

At Tuesday’s Council meeting, the Davis City Council unanimously voted to put Nishi Gateway on the ballot for a Measure R vote.  Measure R requires the establishment of “Baseline Project Features” such as recreation facilities, public facilities, significant project design features, sequencing or phasing, or similar features and requirements. These features cannot be eliminated, reduced or significantly modified without subsequent voter approval. Baseline Project Features are a component of the General Plan Amendment and are also reflected, with additional details as necessary, within the Development Agreement .  These are the final baseline project features.

Project Goals

The essential concept for development on the Nishi property is to serve as a new mixed-use innovation district that takes advantage of the site’s close proximity to both Downtown Davis and UC Davis, major rail and freeway corridors, unique adjacent open space features along the creek corridor both on- and offsite, and its position and potential to be a new high-visibility “gateway” to the city. Project goals include the highest feasible levels of sustainability, defined as long-term and balanced outcomes for people, the environment, and the economy. City Council goals for the development include fiscal and economic benefits for the City General Fund and the overall community.

Katherine Hess listening to a consultant as Mike Webb takes notes
Katherine Hess listening to a consultant as Mike Webb takes notes

Land Use Summary

The land use program for the development of the Nishi property is a mix of rental and for-sale, high-density residential uses; research and development (R&D) space; accessory commercial/retail space; on-site stormwater detention; parks and open spaces, including public parks, greenbelts, and private open space for the proposed residential uses; and parking. An illustrative draft land use and site plan depicting the location of the proposed land uses, along with proposed roadways and connections to adjacent areas, is shown in Table 1.

The following table outlines the land use and site program for the Nishi site. This table generally outlines the authorized uses and the density and intensity of the authorized uses. The acreages are subject to change to reflect requirements of engineering, sustainability, and other implementation requirements. The total number of residential units and the square footage of R&D and accessory retail cannot be greater than those shown below without a further vote of the electorate, except as expressly set forth in these baseline project features.

Future development will be required to be consistent with the land use program enumerated in these Baseline Project Features (number of units, square footage, etc.) but would have flexibility in how specific buildings and exterior spaces on each block are designed in terms of orientation, floorplates, building footprints, etc.

nishi-baseline-chart-1 nishi-baseline-map-1


As set forth in the General Plan amendment, and analyzed in the Environmental Impact Report, a maximum of 650 multifamily residential units shall be permitted, with a minimum density of 60 units per net acre on approximately 9.8 acres, including for-sale condominiums with an average of approximately 1,300 square feet per unit, and rental apartment units.

              Research & Development

As set forth in the General Plan amendment, and analyzed in the Environmental Impact Report, Research and Development (R&D) uses up to a maximum of 325,000 square feet shall be permitted in a series of commercial buildings on approximately 5.0 acres, not including the adjacent surface parking lots. The Development Agreement shall include a provision for City option to purchase the R&D parcels.

              Accessory Retail

Ancillary ground-floor retail, is permitted on the ground floor of the residential and the R&D buildings, as established in the Preliminary Planned Development for the Nishi property.

              Open Space and Parks

Open space, greenbelts, and parks within the Nishi site will include a minimum of 14 acres of parks and greenways, including the Putah Creek corridor, which runs between the Nishi site and the West Olive Drive subarea; pedestrian and bicycle trails and facilities; a green buffer between buildings and I-80; and landscaped gathering spaces, as generally laid out in Figure 6.1 of the Sustainability Implementation Plan, incorporated within this Resolution and on file at the City Clerk’s Office.

              Green Buffer 

Open space shall include a tree buffer between buildings and Interstate 80 as described in the Environmental Impact Report. Trees shall be planted in the green buffer with the first phase of development.

              Backbone Infrastructure

Backbone infrastructure includes a roadway connecting West Olive Drive to the UC Davis campus, bicycle paths and sidewalks, public utilities, stormwater drainage and detention, parks and open space, and grade-separated crossings of the Union Pacific Railroad and the Putah Creek Parkway. These improvements are solely the responsibility of Developer, at the Developer’s sole cost, with fee credits as set forth in the Development Agreement. Notwithstanding the above, City and Developer shall collaborate to seek grant or other financing for grade-separated connection to UC Davis, sustainability improvements, or other infrastructure components. The Project will not include a Community Facilities District for construction of infrastructure.

              Roadways, Circulation, and Parking

The proposed circulation system for the Nishi site consists of new local streets, along with a system of pedestrian and bicycle “greenways” that would connect the site with the West Olive Drive subarea to the northeast and the UC Davis campus to the west. This system would provide enhanced connectivity for pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders, and automobiles via new multi-modal roadway connections and linkages to existing greenways along the historic Putah Creek corridor.

A central street on the Nishi site forms the backbone of the circulation system, which will connect with Old Davis Road and the UC Davis campus via a new grade-separated crossing of the UPRR line, consistent with the assumptions of the Nishi Gateway EIR for circulation and access, and subject to approval by the Regents of the University of California and City Council, as well as an extension of West Olive Drive from Richards Boulevard that would connect the West Olive Drive subarea to the Nishi Property via a new bridge over the historic Putah Creek channel.

Not more than 1,732 off-street surface and structured parking spaces may be constructed on the site. City and Developer shall work to further reduce on-site parking through the Transportation Demand Management Plan, with a target of a maximum of 1,550 off-street parking spaces.


Construction of backbone infrastructure, including the central street, utility mains, and drainage improvements, may be commenced only after commencement of construction of both the connection to UC Davis and the reconfiguration of the Richards Boulevard interchange identified as the “I-80/Richards Interchange” in the Sacramento Area Council of Governments 2012 Metropolitan Transportation Plan. Certificates of Occupancy will not be issued for any buildings on the property until the UC Davis connection (which is subject to approval by the Regents of the University of California), the Interchange improvements, and the road connection to West Olive Drive (including the Putah Creek Parkway bridge and bikeway path) from the Project have been completed.

Backbone infrastructure, including roadways and utilities, necessary for development of R&D properties shall be provided with the first phase of construction, so that parcels are ready for application for design review and building permits.

              Sustainability Components

All of the residential and office/R&D buildings on Nishi will be Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certified through the U. S. Green Building Council.

In addition, City and Developer will pursue LEED Neighborhood Design (LEED-ND) certification for the project, with a commitment to achieving gold level and a goal of reaching platinum level. The City and the Developer recognize that due to unique features of the Nishi site, the project may not meet prerequisites necessary to go through the LEED-ND certification or may be unable to garner sufficient points for a given level of certification.

The City and the Developer commit to applying for LEED-ND prerequisites, as established in the Development Agreement. Should the application for pre-requisites be approved by the U. S. Green Building Council, City and Developer shall submit application for LEED-ND certification.

Should the U.S. Green Building Council deny the application for prerequisite requirements for LEED-ND, the Developer will provide funds for a firm or individual knowledgeable with LEED certification, selected by citizen’s panel made up of City commissioners as outlined in the DA, to review the project and rate it using the LEED-ND point system.

The project is subject to Sustainability Commitments as established in the Development Agreement. Specific components required by these Baseline Project Features are the following:

  • Compliance with EIR Mitigation Measure 4.14-5 calling for a Transportation Demand Program, including limitations on peak-hour vehicle trips for every project phase, to limit impacts on Richards Boulevard.
  • 9 megawatts of photovoltaic, or equivalent, as established in the Development Agreement.
  • Buildings exceeding 2013 Title 24 Energy Efficiency standards by 30%, or more restrictive standard established by State law at the time of building permit.

              Community Enhancements

The project will contribute $1 million to the City of Davis for deposit into the affordable Housing Trust Fund. The project will also contributed $200,000 for community enhancement programs to be used at the sole discretion of the City Council for the following three City programs:, on-site civic arts, establishment of a local carbon offset program, and implementation of the Downtown Parking Management Plan.

The project will participate in a Land-Secured Financing District for Services, or similar financing mechanism, as determined by the City Council, in a range of $300,000 to $630,000 per year at buildout, with inflation adjustments.

Agricultural mitigation shall be provided in accordance with City of Davis Municipal Code requirements. City-owned land may not be utilized to fulfill any component of the agricultural mitigation obligation.

Baseline Project Features: Implementation

The Nishi Gateway project is required to develop in a manner consistent with these Baseline Features. As provided for in Measure J/R, the Baseline Features may not be changed without approval by the voters of the City. The Planning Commission will review compliance with these Baseline Project Features as it considers application for Final Planned Development, Tentative Subdivision Map, approval of Design Guidelines, implementation of sustainability plans, and through the annual review of implementation of the Project’s Development Agreement. There are other additional requirements for the Nishi Gateway project, including but not limited to, the mitigation measures set forth in the Final Environmental Impact Report, and the Development Agreement that, while important to the Project, are not Baseline Project Features and may be modified with the approval of the City, after the appropriate public process. In addition, minor changes to the Project can be anticipated during the course of this multiple year build out. Such changes, often the result of detailed engineering, sustainability obligations, or changing conditions, may be changed without voter approval, if they are substantially consistent with the Baseline Features and they do not materially alter the character of the project, as established in Resolution 06-40 Establishing Criteria to Determine What Constitutes a Significant Project Modification or Change Requiring a Subsequent Measure J Vote.

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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  1. Barack Palin

    This reads like a flyer from the city or the developer.

    Did they tie up all the loose ends that you David were concerned about?

    Is another article coming with your thoughts?

    1. David Greenwald

      This is the baseline project features verbatim as produced by the city. I will weigh in on my thoughts tomorrow. I’m still weighing everything from last night.

      1. Barack Palin

        Okay, thanks for responding, you must be tired.  I watched about an hour of the meeting,  got bored and couldn’t watch anymore.  I don’t know how you have the patience but appreciate the time you put in and your analysis of the council meetings.

  2. Matt Williams

    For those who are looking for the financial commitments, the Backbone Infrastructure section contains the commitment that the cost for capital infrastructure improvements are solely the responsibility of Developer, at the Developer’s sole cost, with fee credits as set forth in the Development Agreement. The backbone infrastructure includes:

    — a roadway connecting West Olive Drive to the UC Davis campus,

    — bicycle paths and sidewalks,

    — public utilities,

    — stormwater drainage and detention,

    — parks and open space.

    Further, the project will not include a CFD (Community Facilities District) for construction of infrastructure.


    The Community Services District annual assessments that we have talked a lot about here on the Vanguard over the past few weeks is included in the Community Enhancements section.  The language of that section published above is from the Staff Report.  Expanded language was passed last night, and as soon as that text is available, the expanded language will be shared.  For now, the Staff Report language is as follows:

    The project will participate in a Land-Secured Financing District for Services, or similar financing mechanism, as determined by the City Council, in a range of $300,000 to $630,000 per year at buildout, with inflation adjustments.

    What that means is that the components of the Land-Secured Services Financing District assessment are essentially as follows:

    —   $181,000 for Parks and Open Space maintenance

    — $93,000 to protect the City if 20 percent of the office/R&D properties become exempt from property taxes for an offset for the rental and/or sale of parcels.

    —   Between $26,000 and $356,000 for city services other than Parks and Open Space Maintenance,

    What isn’t clear at this point is what the “triggers” will be that when realized move the $26,000 upward toward the $356,000.  I was told by a second-hand source that the triggers quite possibly will have to do with the securing of third-party financing of some of the infrastructure components.

    1. CalAg

      MW: Specifically, what are these “fee credits” and what are their fiscal impacts? This last second qualifier needs to be understood. Is FBC in the dark on this?

  3. CalAg

    More on these mysterious “fee credits.”

    From the Development Agreement:

    Based upon the current adopted Capital Improvement Program, the Project is estimated to generate $4,775,462 in roadway impact fees, reflecting the project components described in Section 200. The City retains the discretion to apply the Roadway Development Impact Fees contributed by Developer to specific public improvements, as the City may determine appropriate. City anticipates that three million dollars ($3,000,000) of the Roadway Impact Fees will be used for the Richards Boulevard Interchange.

    Payment of Roadway Development Impact Fees, as set forth herein, shall fulfill Developer’s obligations to make a fair-share contribution to the costs of Interchange Improvements (Phase 1 Improvement: Richards Boulevard/I-80 Westbound Ramps and Phase 2 Improvements) required by EIR Mitigation Measure 4.14-2.

    The Project shall be entitled to fee credits for construction of the Olive Drive and Richards Boulevard Intersection improvements and the bridge over the Putah Creek Parkway, but only to the extent that these fee credits do not reduce the total Roadway Impact Fee payment to less than the three million dollars ($3,000,000) identified above. This credit will be applied to Roadway Impact Fees due after three million dollars in Roadway Development Impact Fees has been collected from the Project, or through other allocation system approved by the City Manager and set forth as a Minor Amendment to this Agreement

    4. Quimby Act Fees and Park Impact Fees

    Developers’ Quimby Act and park impact fee obligations shall be deemed satisfied through the combination of the Project’s required land dedication, turn-key park, greenbelt and open space improvements.

    1. CalAg

      My read is that the fee credits are:

      (1) A $1.775M discount on their roadway impact fees that will be used to offset the costs of public infrastructure – in violation of the general principle communicated to the public by the council that the developer would pay for all infrastructure.

      Specifically, the discount will be granted to offset the costs of the Putah Creek bridge (and presumably the bike underpass that curiously never gets mentioned) and the Richards/Olive Drive interchange improvements.

      (2) Complete forgiveness of the project’s obligation to pay it’s fair share of the Richards/I-80 interchange improvements. Value to the developer – unknown pending further investigation.

      (3)  Partial forgiveness of the developers’ Quimby Act and park impact fee obligations. Value to the developer – unknown pending further investigation.


  4. Ron

    Can anyone provide a link to documentation which shows the design of the proposed Richards Boulevard interchange?  (And, perhaps the entire traffic design?)

    Thank you.

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