By David M. Greenwald
Davis, CA – The city of Davis does not have much space left for larger scale R&D projects, but the vacant property on Faraday Ave, off 2nd Street and in front of DMG Mori, is one of the few larger tracts at 7.81 acres.
On Wednesday, the Planning Commission gave the go ahead to allow construction of a new 107,612 square-foot, one-story building for biotech and advanced manufacturing and related site improvements on the vacant property.
That parcel is currently designated as Business Park.
The anticipates consistency with both land use and zoning, as it is being designed to accommodate a life science, biotech, or advanced manufacturing tenant.
The proposed project includes a request for a Right-of-Way (ROW) Vacation to abandon a portion of Faraday Avenue that would be incorporated in the development site and would increase the size of the parcel to be developed to approximately 8.33 acres. Council would have to approve the ROW Vacation—separate from review of the site.
While they did not reveal the identity of the potential tenant, it is widely believed to be Schilling Robotics—as reported by the Vanguard last spring.
A representative from Buzz Oates described the prospective occupant as “a current Davis tenant that’s in the biotech advanced manufacturing sector who needs to expand and would love to remain in the city of Davis, so long as we can meet all their requirements and meet their tight timeline.”
He added that “it is a priority for us to keep those folks here in Davis supporting the local economy and providing employment opportunity for residents and recent UC Davis graduates.”
He noted, regardless of the tenant, “we plan to build this facility regardless of whether those guys sign a lease with us. We see it as a great infill site, great fit for the city and think it would be a great complementary user for the university and for the number of businesses operating along that Second Street corridor.”
Adding to the speculation is the fact it is a single-story site.
The applicant noted in the project description, “If the proposed tenant in current negotiation with ownership occupies the facility, they will require an approximately 7,500 square foot testing pool and an associated bridge crane.”
While the project itself is “prominently located and will be highly visible from Interstate 80,” the applicant notes, “[t]he entirety of the back of the facility will be screened from public view by both the building itself, and the surrounding landscape features. The west portion of the site is planned for employee gathering and amenity spaces and will be well shaded and surrounded by landscape features.”
In May 2022, TechnipFMC has signed a lease to accommodate expansion of its Schilling Robotics operations in Davis in the 71,000 square foot building owned by Pac West Diversified, LP (PWD) which is affiliated with the Buzz Oates group.
At the time, Mayor Gloria Partida called that part of the move “a significant economic development win for the community of Davis.” She said, “Our engineering talent rivals other regions throughout the nation. We are glad to see this company stay in Davis instead of moving to another community.”
“TechnipFMC’s new lease proves our market momentum and validates why companies decide to select the Greater Sacramento region over other locations,” Greater Sacramento Economic Council President & CEO Barry Broome said. “Offering readily available advanced manufacturing real estate space for companies is imperative as we look to continue to grow the economy in Greater Sacramento.”
“This lease demonstrates the strong and ongoing demand in Davis for space to accommodate cutting-edge tech companies, which keeps jobs and tax revenues in the community,” said Dan Ramos, project manager for the Davis Innovation & Sustainability Campus (DiSC) project.
This latest approval would appear to address the immediate needs of Schilling and allow the company to fully expand as they had anticipated nearly a decade ago.
At the same time, as voters have three times rejected Innovation Centers in Davis (in 2016, 2020 and 2022), the number of sizable available tracts of land is continuing to dwindle.