On Wednesday, developers for the University Mall Redevelopment project held a scoping meeting in advance of their EIR. The comment period of the NOP closes on Monday, December 17, 2018 and any comments that the public has on the scope of the University Mall Redevelopment EIR should be provided to the City of Davis Department of Community Development and Sustainability by the end of the day.
The site currently is an 8.25 acre parcel with 103,696 square feet of commercial uses, including retail and restaurants. Tenants include Trader Joe’s market, Forever 21, Cost Plus World Market, The Davis Graduate restaurant and sports bar, and smaller shops and services. Professional offices are located on a partial second floor.
The redevelopment project will involve the “demolition of approximately 90,653 square feet of the existing mall to create a mixed-use development.” The project would result in 264 multi-family residential units and 136,800 square feet of new retail uses.
“The addition of 136,800 square feet of retail uses would accommodate shops, restaurants and other uses,” they write in their proposal. “The proposed improvements and uses would revitalize the center and expand shopping and dining options for local residents. At buildout, the project would include approximately 808,500 square feet.
“The existing building that houses the mall retail uses would be demolished and rebuilt to include four levels of residential units over three levels of parking and four levels of residential units over retail uses,” they write. The overall proposed building height would be seven stories or approximately 80 feet.
A big new feature will be a lot more usable space outside. The current design has very limited outdoor space, reflecting the way buildings used to be designed. But that will change with the new design. “The redeveloped site landscaping will include outdoor seating and congregating areas, bicycle parking, plazas, and pedestrian connections among buildings,” they write.
Among the potential environmental impacts to be studied will be an analysis of the GHG emissions from non-mobile sources. They will also evaluate the consistency of the proposed project with the city’s adopted land use plans and its compatibility with the surrounding land uses, both existing and proposed.
The proposal calls for 264 multi-family residential units that would consist of 66 one-bedroom units, 104 two-bedroom units, 28 three-bedroom units, and 66 four-bedroom units.
The bedrooms would be comprised of 430 single-occupancy rooms and 232 double-occupancy rooms, resulting in a total bed count of 894.
The developers note that the development “would be focused on student use, but would be available for non-students as well.”
One of the concerns mentioned by some residents at the scoping meeting was the number of residential parking spaces. The current plan calls for 696 total parking spaces which would consist of 265 spaces for residential use and 431 for retail use. Retail and residential parking spaces would be provided by a new, three-story parking garage with 551 total spaces.
The first and second levels of the parking garage would each provide 128 retail parking spaces. The third level of the parking garage would provide 265 parking spaces for the proposed residential units, as well as 30 parking spaces for retail use, for a total of 295 spaces. An additional 145 retail parking spaces would be provided by the surface-level parking lot.
The argument was that the number of residential spaces – one per unit is too small and could force residents into the impacted retail spaces.
Is one residential parking spot per unit the right quantity? Given the location of facility next to campus and the planned housing for students, the developer like those at places like Lincoln40 and Davis Live, believes that a lower amount of parking spots are needed.
The University Mall is hardly alone in this regard – other recent projects have cut back on the number of parking spaces.
Lincoln40 for instance has 708 beds and only proposed to provide 239 parking stalls for vehicles. Nishi has 220 beds but only 700 parking spaces. Davis Live Housing is building 440 beds but will only have 71 vehicles onsite – once again one per unit.
We have noted using the UC Davis Travel Survey that those living less than a mile from campus very rarely drive to campus. In fact, when they surveyed 767 students, those living within a mile from campus, only 2.2 percent either drive alone or carpool
That figure does not tell the full story, of course. After all, it is quite possible to own a car, but not use them to travel to campus.
However, data show that students increasingly do not have cars. When the travel survey questioned students recently as to how many had access to a car, only 42.7 percent of undergraduate students reported access to a car compared with 70.8 percent of graduates and 93.3 percent of employees.
Drilling down further, we see that those who live outside of Davis are nearly all driving into town, with 91.5 percent having access to a car. Thus those students who live in town, are less like than even the 42.7 percent to have a car.
When you factor in location, you end up with a great incentive for students without cars to be the one living across the street from campus.
There are questions as to enforceability. But the number of locations off-site to park and walk are rather limited at this location.
While there are concerns that the retail spaces would be consumed by residents, the current facility’s location near campus means that the retail spaces are monitored to ensure that people parking at the University Mall are not using it as a free parking spot for campus purposes.
In short, people living at the University Mall will be warned going in that they most likely will not be able to have a vehicle on the site. Given demographic trends and location, that’s probably more reasonable than some fear.
—David M. Greenwald reporting