By David M. Greenwald
Davis, CA – Eight months after the first DISC project failed at the polls, the partners of Ramco and Buzz Oates are back with a second project – this one considerably smaller at 102 acres and just over one million square feet.
“At 102 acres the new DiSC 2022 plan is about half as large as the proposal that appeared on the November 2020 ballot. As with the previous plan, DiSC 2022 includes laboratory, R&D and advanced manufacturing facilities, homes designed to appeal to innovation center employees, affordable housing, a hotel and parks. Tech-oriented employment facilities total approximately 1.1 million square feet, about half of what was proposed in 2020, and the number of housing units is reduced by nearly half from 850 to 460,” a release read.
“Because the demand is strong and growing for an innovation center close to the university, we’ve decided to try one more time to get a plan approved. We believe there’s an appetite in Davis for a smaller plan that is responsive to the community and the market,” said Dan Ramos, vice president of Ramco Enterprises and DiSC 2022 project manager.
“The changes we’re making are in direct response to what we’ve heard from the community,” said Ramos. “We also now have insight into what post-COVID work environments will look like and our updated plan reflects those realities. What hasn’t changed is the need for research and advanced-manufacturing facilities to deal with global challenges like climate change and food security, especially so close to a leading research university like UC Davis.”
Reynolds & Brown, which owns property that comprised the northern portion of the earlier plan, is no longer involved in the project. “We’re directing our resources to other projects and are not going forward in Davis,” said Dana Parry, president and CEO of Reynolds & Brown.
DISC in November failed by a 52-48 margin or about 1300 votes.
Critics of the project complained about traffic impacts as well as the overall size last year. In addition, many observers felt that the uncertainty created by the pandemic and the absence of students on campus were causes of the voter denial.
In the meantime, there were generally positive comments from various stakeholders in Thursday’s release.
“UC Davis encourages projects that bring economic development to our region and produce opportunities for our shared communities,” said UC Davis Chancellor Gary S. May.
“As the voice of the Davis business community, we’re planning to play an active role in communicating broadly about the plan’s many benefits for the city,” said Cory Koehler, executive director of the Davis Chamber of Commerce.
According to Ramos, numerous tech firms have expressed interest in locating at the DiSC. “We know there is strong demand within and outside of the region for the type of facilities we plan to develop. There will be no problem finding leading-edge tech tenants when the plan is approved,” Ramos said.
Local tech leaders also have indicated they are supportive of the DiSC 2022’s implementation.
“There isn’t enough space in Davis to accommodate all of the innovation-focused businesses that would like to be here. We need DiSC 2022 to retain more of the companies that are being formed through research done at UC Davis,” said Justin Siegel, a Davis-based entrepreneur and founder of five biotech companies.
The project could potentially go on the ballot for June 2022 vote.
—David M. Greenwald reporting