(From Press Release) – Last Tuesday night, south Davis residents gathered at the Marguerite Montgomery Elementary School multipurpose room to discuss redevelopment plans for the 7.4 acre site at 3820 Chiles Rd. Depending on when one originated in Davis, some know the building on this property as the old Pacific Standard Life insurance company, and some know it as UC Davis offices. While both of these references were at some point true, the building is now vacant with an uncertain future. Seismic analysis has deemed the building unsafe and commercial brokers have deemed it functionally obsolete, causing potential tenants to turn away.
Lor Shepard, retired UC Davis agricultural economics professor and 42-year Davis resident is the owner of the building. Over the past two years, he has worked with contractors, architects, engineers, commercial brokers and city and regional economic development authorities to identify a path for mitigating the office building’s limitations to make it safe and attractive to a potential tenant. When no feasible solution was found, he began looking into options for redeveloping the site, the subject of Tuesday’s meeting.
“I feel that it is crucial to seek input from the property’s neighbors about the future of this site. At the beginning stages of any development project there is flexibility to tailor the design to its surrounding community, and I believe strongly in doing so.” Chuck Cunningham, Shepard’s development partner, echoes his sentiments, “We have an opportunity to create something that meets community needs and enhances the neighborhood at this site and in that spirit we want to get as much information as possible as we draft the plans.”
The plans, so far, involve a residential community tailored to young professionals, graduate students, and families with both rental and for-sale units. An initial step in this project involves applying to rezone the site from commercial to residential use. “The area is already densely populated with highway commercial development, states Cunningham. “A residential community would add balance to the neighborhood.”
Neighbors welcomed last Tuesday night’s gathering with Shepard and Cunningham. Joan Futscher lives in the neighborhood and states, “Frankly I am relieved to see the concept of a residential neighborhood. We have so much commercial development out here already.” Rene Toledo, who lives across the street from the site, was grateful for the discussion. “We knew a change was coming to the site and it was nice to be on the ground level and have a voice in the process. I like the idea of a residential development versus what the current zoning allows.”
The request for rezoning will be presented to the City of Davis by the end of the month. If it’s successful, Shepard and Cunningham will continue planning the project with hopes to break ground in 2018.