Davis Chamber Comes Out in Favor of Trackside Project

New Trackside Schematic
New Trackside schematic

The Davis Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday came out in favor of “the updated proposal for the Trackside Center project, submitted by applicant Kemble Pope as a representative of the investor group for Trackside Center.”

The original version of Trackside Center, a proposed redevelopment of existing buildings on 3rd Street just east of the railroad tracks and west of I Street was submitted in May of 2015 as a six-story building with a mix of uses.  After pushback from the neighbors, they submitted in September a new application for a four-story mixed-use building.

In their statement, the Davis Chamber said, “The Davis community has a broad residential base with varying housing needs. Densification through infill with a mixed-use design like Trackside utilizes existing space to provide unique options that Davis residents may be seeking but unable to find in the present housing supply.”

“We applaud the Trackside investors, all of whom are Davis residents, for their commitment to invest in our community,” the Chamber states. “The design modifications from initial project scope were based on feedback received from the neighborhood and the wider community.”

They add, “The new design reflects a good balance of residential and commercial space, while incorporating a design that is representative of downtown and the existing neighborhood.”

With respect to economic development, the Davis Chamber continues: “This project will provide additional retail, small office and residential space in the downtown core. The mixed-use design provides an efficient use of the property while expanding the revenue base for community services through new property, business license and retail assessments.”

The Chamber of Commerce “strongly supports every effort to promote business opportunities in Davis, and will continue to educate and encourage residents to support projects that align with our mission of promoting, supporting and advocating the general economic vitality of our membership and the quality of life for the community.”

As indicated, in September the Trackside developers filed a new application.

In their application they note, “The new building will be one story of street-level commercial uses, three stories (top story is massed toward the west and south) of rental residences and parking, tucked under the north end of the building, continuing out to the western edge of the site.”

The applicants write, “Third Street is the major east-west connector street from the Core Area of Davis to UC Davis. This building would serve as the eastern anchor to the long-envisioned ‘Main Street’ mixed-use corridor.”  They add, “The site is at the nexus of many different land uses and zoning: railroad, rock yard, commercial and a traditional neighborhood. The proposed building has different architectural styles and setbacks/stepbacks on each façade both in recognition and to aid in the transition of the varying uses, scales and characters that surround the site.”

Trackside Center, LLC currently owns the property and “build and own this project as a long-term hold. The owners of the company are all Davis residents with deep roots and a history of dedicated service to our community.”

They continue, “This project was originally submitted in May 2015 as a 6-story building with similar uses. In early 2016, the project went back to the drawing board. Comments and input from City leaders, many Davis residents and neighbors have been received, recorded and when possible, incorporated into the updated design.”

While the project is pared down from the original May 2015 six-story building, the current proposal still seeks to achieve increased residential density in the downtown combined with new commercial and retail space for “transit-oriented infill and sustainable redevelopment.”

It features three storefront areas, totaling 9100 square feet.  The applicants note, “The site contains a parcel that has been leased from Union Pacific Railroad for over 100 years and the proposal would improve it to provide an inviting landscaped plaza for the commercial frontage facing west with parking at the northern end.”

The updated proposal does reduce the previously proposed width of the building by eight feet in order “to create a tree-lined sidewalk on private property along the west edge of the 30’ wide public alley. This ‘alley activation’ will create commercial frontage on the southern half of the building, facing east.”

The project requests “a traffic reconfiguration to one-way north, retains the existing number of parking within the alley and adds a loading zone and aesthetic improvements to create a charming and pedestrian accessible ‘European-style’ alley.”

The 27 residences will be “a mixture of sizes and configurations that are accessed through a secure lobby and elevator. The rental unit designs target demographics which includes existing Davis residents that want to downsize from their larger homes or want to lead a more urban lifestyle in Downtown Davis near our multi-modal transit center.

“The design of the project is sensitive and responsive to the adjacent uses,” the applicants write. “Along the eastern edge, the architecture is ‘Farmhouse Modern’ to create a more traditional residential look-and-feel. The building is massed away from the east and north in a series of stepbacks.”

On Third Street, there will be a “Main Street” traditional storefront component that “dominates the pedestrian experience with the top floor is set back from view.”

Along the railroad, “the plaza is anchored by an existing Cork Oak tree. The architecture of this façade is more industrial in nature, reflecting the site’s history and railroad adjacency.”

“Privacy concerns are an important part of the architecture of this project, and great care has been taken to protect the privacy of future residents and existing neighbors with a variety of proposed solutions including trees, increased setbacks and screened balconies,” they write.

On the sustainability front, “The project is a dense, transit-oriented, bicycle and pedestrian friendly development that will encourage small carbon footprint lifestyles due to its location and design.  The project will meet or exceed the City’s Cal-Green standards and Title 24 requirements with solar PV and other innovative systems.”

The applicants conclude, “Trackside Center is designed with high quality architecture and materials to define a downtown gateway. It gracefully integrates the surrounding uses and helps to achieve the City’s goals by pursuing environmental sustainability, adding economic vitality, improving infrastructure, and promoting a vibrant and safe downtown.”

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. Frankly

    The standard group of Davis NIMBY-NOE residents are meeting today to their game plan for opposing this project too.   They are seeking recommendations for ideas that will resonate with the EFOE (easily frightened of everything) residents and get them riled up to yell at City Council members.

    Mike Harrington will join them to file some law suits.

    Since I am nowhere near as creative of these people, I cannot imagine what they will come up with.  For example, we might be made aware of a micro-air-pollution plume that hovers over that very spot and is said, by a single scientist of unknown connection to the NIMBY-NOE group, that contains harmful chemicals known to cause support for Trump.

    Or something like this.

    Whatever they come up with I am sure my sweet and kooky Davis friends will believe it and suffer great anxiety… and our Davis City Council members, feeling their pain, will buckle like they would seeing a room full of starving puppies.

    We keep watching this same play.

  2. Barack Palin

    Now that the project has been scaled back to 4 stories with setbacks I feel it more fits the neighbourhood and don’t see any reasons why it shouldn’t move forward.

    As to Frankly’s point, at the risk of sounding snide or snarky I have heard that mulch bark dust can be very bad for your health.  😉

  3. quielo

    Seems like a continous strand of similar developments would reduce noise from the railroad. This is way outside any knowledge I have but if they could be sound absorbing rather than sound reflective that would be great.

    BTW it would be nice to see the elevation from the neighborhood side.

    1. Mark West

      “Seems like a continous strand of similar developments would reduce noise from the railroad.”

      As an aside, if you look at the zoning and design guidelines for Cowell in south Davis, they envision a line of 50′ tall buildings along the Southside of Cowell, between the freeway and the Rose Creek neighborhood, specifically to act as a buffer against freeway noise. In typical Davis fashion, we now have residents claiming that they like the noise and don’t want the buildings. I expect a similar response to quielo’s suggestion here.

    2. Tia Will


      Seems like a continous strand of similar developments would reduce noise from the railroad”

      As one neighbor, the noise from the railroad is simply not a concern for me. My house is located 1/2 block from the east-west line, there is a train passing as I type and it is of no concern to me. I certainly would not see building a four story building between myself and the tracks as an appropriate means of setting up a sound barrier. I have never heard any member of the neighbor hood including those who live the closest to the north-south line state that this is an issue for them.

      However, if sound were to be an issue, I would see this as an argument against putting housing in this building which will be immediately adjacent to those tracks. If you see the noise as a problem for the neighbors now ( which they do not) would it not be even more so for those living almost directly above the tracks ?

      1. quielo



        I am in North Davis and the sound of the 113 is pervasive. The train is less of an issue for me as well though it may be for some people. If buildings are designed as sound barriers they are quite soundproof with the windows closed. If they had built the apartments between Sycamore and the 113 with sound barrier is mind I’m certain North Davis would be quieter. When I walk around North Davis Farms there is never anyone outside as the noise is deafening.

        I do find it curious that the illustrations are all from the track point of view while the opposition is from the people on the other side and they never show what that is going to look like.

  4. Chamber Fan

    What is most interesting to me is that the scaled down project still isn’t acceptable to the neighbors.  What is acceptable?  I don’t see how this proposal is that bad.

      1. Marina Kalugin

        nice pic South of Davis….yes….that may be acceptable to some…but those who now have single story homes, they won’t want the second story folks leering in their yard….not that anyone who moves in is going to be accused of being a “leerer”…..it is just that for many, many decades, the city building and planning, the planning commission and most City Council members actually cared about the adverse impact on the quality of life for those who purchased their homes with certain expectations in the General Plan…

        too bad we are not really having those types of folks stand up for the rights of citizens any more…. or at least not majorities….

        thus so much money gets spent by developers who try to get around the rules….and not too many on the current council will say….now now children, you are trying to sneak around the rules.

        but you see, though my primary residence is in South Davis, my neighborhood is actually all of Davis….

        and most of us nimbys as frankly likes to call us in his snarky tones behind his sock puppet personae, are actually those who care more than the ones who are only out to make a dime….



  5. Marina Kalugin

    when I lived on the historic NISHI farmhouse which got an untimely demise under unknown circumstances after some developers bought it from the farmer, the bedroom was less than 75 feet from the train tracks…

    the first few nights as I sloshed around in one of those oldfashioned water beds   (heck it was the 70s after all)…and on the second floor it all truly sloshed around….I got to where I couldn’t even hear the train any more.

    The neighbors who bought their little houses walking distance to downtown, enjoy their light filled yards and and perhaps enjoy the train as well.

    Of course, the chamber came out for it….the chamber will be for anything that may mean more business for the business owners, and more jobs for those professionals who belong to the Chamber.

    if this is a measure J/R type thing, it will never pass….a word to the wise, stop trying… and do something more useful with your time, money and so on….in fact I have lots of causes you could donate to….way better….


    1. Misanthrop

      “if this is a measure J/R type thing, it will never pass….a word to the wise, stop trying… and do something more useful with your time, money and so on….in fact I have lots of causes you could donate to….way better….”

      Of course this is why Measure R must not be renewed.

  6. Michael Harrington

    I love listening to the trains at night when there is a south wind and the sound comes across the downtown and Old North.  Often the engineers “talk” to each other with their own signature horn patterns, blowing as the trains approach and pass each other on the main east west line.  I can tell the Amtrack horns, and the usual UP yellow engine horns, but sometimes there are very different sounds in the middle of the night.  Who knows what sort of different trains roll in the middle of the night?  Their odd horn blasts give them away, but unless I went down to the train station and waited all night, I would have no idea what the unusual engines might be.  Maybe Alan Miller can set up a “train cam” to catch all that different night life as it rolls by … I’m sure a lot of people would leave it up and running.  Require a “train cam” on the top of Trackside?

    It’s so cool to live down town.

    1. Alan Miller

      Their odd horn blasts give them away, but unless I went down to the train station and waited all night, I would have no idea what the unusual engines might be.  Maybe Alan Miller can . . .

      . . . Indeed Alan Miller can explain this:

      Those odd horn blasts are Creepy Clown Trains.  The engines are painted with polka dots and a red nose.  They pass through about 4:00a.m., and stare in your windows.

  7. Tia Will


    I enjoyed your accounting of your experience of the trains. My partner can tell the trains by their sounds as you have described. My approach is somewhat different. I love to watch them as they pass by, but unless we are out in front of our house or walking along the paved area near the rose garden, I rarely consciously hear them. I automatically stop talking as one passes by since we cannot hear each other then, but the sound makes no other impact on me at all.

  8. Marina Kalugin

    lovely sharing of lovely train filled memories….enjoying this…hope someone doesn’t who may not enjoy the fun of the perhaps offtopic, but pleasant banter…  🙂 doesn’t censor it


  9. Alan Miller

    Former Davis Mayor Ann Evans, at a CCJPA meeting (where they were discussing Bay Area people complaining about the train horns), said (paraphrase):  “I have never got a single complaint from anyone in Davis about the train horns.  In fact, when they have mentioned them to me, they tell me how much they like them.”

  10. Marina Kalugin

    PS>   in KA the height restriction is no taller than the coconut trees surrounding it…

    For many a decade the tallest building around for miles was Mrak Hall…so the top executives could enjoy the unobstructed view for many a mile.

    Even the Embassy suites has many a “suite” in cities, towns and areas where they must conform to height restrictions and levels of stories.

    If the Trackside land usage was to only be single family homes with a single story and feet height restrictions, and lower density, then the developers should pack up and figure out how to play by the rules…

    PPS>   measure R  will never be rescinded as long as there are enough of us who care left in this town….and not all of us are old bats either

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