By David M. Greenwald
Davis, CA – Why does a place like Davis have a housing crisis? Trackside is becoming another object lesson of just how difficult it is to build housing in a place like Davis—even after a project gains approval.
To be clear—mistakes were made with respect to the project. The process was unnecessarily contentious and that process immediately burned any goodwill between the applicants and the neighbors.
But here’s the thing. The project was approved back in 2017, and while I questioned whether the project would deliver the needed housing for the community—particularly given the amount of neighborhood angst—the process has ultimately completely failed.
A lawsuit was filed by the neighborhood in 2017 and while it initially succeeded in halting the project, ultimately the developer prevailed but not until 2021.
At that point, the original developer moved to sell the property and entitled project last year.
An article in the Sacramento Business Journal on Friday noted that a group in the East Bay including Pathak Trust and Sharmda Sampda Trust bought the site and entitlements.
But housing is off the table, at least for now.
The city affirmed that the entitlements remain valid, so they could proceed with a project once the finance market improves.
That was the gist of the article in the Business Journal.
“The plan as far as I know is to take it as a retail value-add investment,” said Scott Kingston, one of three Turton Commercial Real Estate Brokers on the deal. “We’ve already got three potential tenants.”
The new owners, according to the Business Journal, paid $2 million for the property, which currently has two single-story buildings with 11,825 square feet of retail space.
But Kingston also told the publication that they will not pursue the full entitled project—which called for four stories, 56,000-plus square feet of residential space in 27 apartments and 7320 square feet of retail space.
That becomes an option, he said, “as the debt and equity markets improve.”
Bear in mind, just because Trackside was approved for a certain type of housing does not mean that the project proposal cannot be reworked. One option that was apparently in the works at one point was for it to be converted to an affordable housing project.
For now it will remain an under-utilized retail project with no housing.
It also remains another indicator of how difficult it is to actual build housing in Davis—even when it is desperately needed.
This is not the first project that has been fully entitled but has been unable to actually get built. People who argue for infill projects might want to bear in mind just how difficult it is to actually build these kinds of projects in this environment.