Planning Commission Gets First Taste of Aggie Research Campus


It will not be a formal hearing item.  That will have to wait for a second round as we get closer to a May council approval timeline.  However, the Planning Commission and public will get a chance to hear more about the Aggie Research Campus project.

Staff explains, “The workshop is informational and should be used as an opportunity for the Planning Commission to receive information, ask clarifying questions, and speak to what may be helpful in evaluating the project. There will be no actions taken regarding the project.”

The project had previously gone to the Planning Commission when it was the Mace Ranch Innovation Center.  In September 2017, City Council certified the Final EIR for that project before the project was put on hold, but back in June of 2019, the council received a request from the developers “requesting the City recommence with processing of their innovation center application, which has been renamed as the Aggie Research Campus.”

The project is located near the Mace Curve, in unincorporated Yolo County near the Davis city limits.  At build out, anticipated over a 20- to 50-year period, the project would include up to 2.65 million square feet of innovation space, with 850 residential units designed as workforce housing.

The project “would include space for office, research & development, laboratory, advance manufacturing, prototyping, limited supportive retail, a hotel and a conference center, and include 850 residential units to provide a jobs/housing balance.”

Staff further describes: “The proposed Aggie Research Campus is a research and development business park campus that intends to offer a live/work environment through a comprehensive sustainable site design and broad array of complementary land uses.”

In the prior MRIC proposal, “development of the City’s Mace 25 was part of the project proposal,” staff writes.  “The current ARC proposal removes the City’s Mace 25 parcel from the development proposal. There are no proposed changes to the agricultural zoning of the Mace 25 parcel nor to the City ownership of the property. “

Staff adds, “The ARC project does propose a 150’ wide, nine-acre agricultural buffer easement on the southern and eastern edges of the Mace 25 parcel. The placement of the agricultural buffer easement will be considered as part of the larger entitlement application discussion at a future meeting.”

The project went before the Open Space and Habitat Commission on November 4.

“The Open Space and Habitat Commission recommends that, if the City Council approves the Aggie Research Campus project, the following project features should be included in the project’s ‘Baseline Project Features’ and/or Development Agreement: among other things, that ‘agricultural mitigation land should be located within the Davis Planning Area’ and ‘If the agricultural buffer remains on the “Mace 25” site, the agricultural buffer should be wider.’”

The goal of the project is to “provide suitable space in which to retain existing local businesses and to attract and grow innovative high-value added, technology-oriented companies.”

The proposed mix of uses at ARC “will create a campus-like environment where the anticipated innovation center workforce can live, work, and play.”  The goal is that the campus model “would result in daily interaction between individuals such as IT professionals, research analysts, mechanical engineers and entrepreneurs, and provide opportunities and synergies for collaboration and innovation both during and after normal business hours.”

Currently the project has about 57 percent of the commercial development identified for R&D type uses with another 33 percent dedicated to advanced manufacturing, and up to 10 percent would be support retail uses including a hotel and conference center.

They project the hotel and conference center to be located on the southwestern corner, near the intersection of Mace Blvd. and Second Street, which would be across the street from the Residence Inn opening next month.

They note: “Most of the supportive retail would be on the ground floor of the proposed research/office/ R&D or multi-family residential building surrounding the Oval park and the transit plaza area, resulting in vertically integrated mixed-use buildings.”

The city anticipates the release of both the traffic study as well as the EPS fiscal analysis.

The previous fiscal analysis looked the cumulative impact of both MRIC and Nishi—but, remember, Nishi was just 300,000 square feet of innovation space while MRIC, similar in size to ARC, was projected at 2.1 million.

The economic impact resulting from both of those project was enormous—anticipating 3,400 jobs, $605 million in income from goods and services generated, and $271 million in labor income in the short term.

The longer term showed the potential for 11,000 jobs, $2.9 billion from goods and services generated, and $706 million of labor income on an basis.

Said then-City Manager Dirk Brazil: “The innovation centers will not only create high-wage jobs for Davis residents, but will also provide the financial resources that will allow the City to address maintenance needs and provide high-level services for our residents.”

In addition, the construction of the center could create more than 2000 jobs as well as generate hundreds of millions of dollars in economic impact.

On Wednesday, the Planning Commission and public will have an opportunity to ask questions and make comments.  However, as noted, no action will be taken at this point.

Staff concludes: “Staff felt having an opportunity to have the applicant present the proposed project to the Planning Commission for initial comments and questions would be helpful. This allows preliminary discussion between the Planning Commission, the applicant, and staff prior to the project coming forward for a formal public hearing.”

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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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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