By Jason Taormino
The Davis Chamber welcomes Browman Development to Davis and we are pleased they chose to invest here. They will be an asset to our community, based on their long term ownership strategy and engagement in the communities where they currently own property.
The study they commissioned is a prime example of their commitment. That study concluded that redevelopment was not economically feasible at this time, and is a sign that is hard to ignore.
With the increase in property taxes triggered by the sale – several of the existing business owners decided to close or move to lower cost buildings. This is an indicator that market demand for space in Davis, especially for retail, is lower than desired.
Over the past decade, downtown Davis has converted 60,000 sf of office and retail (per City of Davis) to bars and restaurants. If office and retail are dwindling then we have a less balanced economy.
As we have fewer high paid employees downtown working in offices, they shop less and a negative cycle of less retail and more bars and restaurants catering to college kids continues.
If we want an Apple store or other marquee businesses in town we need a balanced portfolio across Davis and not just in our core down town.
According to the Institute for Transportation Engineers – restaurants need 16 parking spaces per 1,000 sf, while retail requires two spaces. This is why the parking situation downtown is worse today than ten years ago.
If we do the math 60,000÷1,000×2 = 120 vs 60,000÷1,000×12 = 720 or we have a net deficit of 600 spaces. We need a 400-space parking structure on the City-owned lot at 3rd/4th/E & F, and to increase surface parking just to stem the tide.
Economically vibrant communities across the world have found that, when demand is high enough, it warrants redevelopment with a focus on mixed use architecture, allowing retail on the ground floor and office and housing above. How high the new buildings rise is a reflection of the strength of the market.
To understand why this has been slow to happen in Davis requires a deep dive into our economy and culture. It is a conversation we need to have as a community and it should involve everyone from special interest groups in town as well as those who live in Davis and help lead our University.
We would like to close with two other thoughts about driving economic vibrancy to benefit the entire community. To sustain the amenities such as our parks, pools, community services and other infrastructure, we need 10,000 new high paying jobs in Davis.
We need to increase our commercial space from 1,750,000 sf to 4,000,000 in order to achieve this goal.
This won’t solve all of our problems but it will improve our economy, increase city revenue, improve our schools and allow us to compete and thrive.
Our vision of the future includes Browman Development opening a new building in a vibrant and well-balanced community.
Jason Taormino is the Davis Chamber of Commerce, Board Chair