A united Davis City Council came together to praise the 100-acre Cannery project at its formal groundbreaking Friday morning.
The 547-unit mixed-density housing development — including some commercial buildings — is the result of 10-year process ending in the agreements that developers The New Home Company will execute. Speakers Friday said the process was challenging, but fruitful in the end.
“It is a great day for Davis,” said Mayor Joe Krovoza, who voted against the project in November over bike connectivity issues. “… This is a spectacular project.”
The Cannery project will be built on the site of the former Hunt-Wesson tomato cannery at J Street and Covell Boulevard. Its highlights include a 7.4-acre urban farm that will provide fresh produce to Cannery homes, restaurants and local neighbors. It also will be an “agri-classroom” to teach sustainable urban farming. Low-, medium- and high-density homes along with 15 acres of commercial/business park space are planned. There are also greenbelts and parks, plus a community center.
The New Home Company expects the initial grading of the property to begin this summer. Then some other preparatory construction will be done in anticipation of new home construction that will start next spring. The developer will know more about the timeline for completion once the home construction begins.
Mayor Pro Tem Dan Wolk, who voted in favor of the project, said the Davis community sets a very high expectation for growth, making The Cannery a leader across the nation for development standards.
As a deputy county counsel for Solano County, Wolk said he had worked with many developers in the past.
“This team is the best one I’ve worked with,” he said.
City Councilwoman Rochelle Swanson alluded to regional pressure to get homes built in Davis. Swanson also voted for the project, along with Wolk and Councilman Lucas Frerichs.
“It’s been true we’ve had support in the region, but to be clear, that support has been pressure,” she said, explaining that at many meetings where she encountered representatives of the Sacramento Area Council of Governments, she was often asked if The Cannery would go through.
Nonetheless, she had high praise for the developers.
“They’re partners with the city,” she said. “They’re not developers, they’re partners.”
City Councilman Brett Lee, who voted against the project because he thought the developer could have done better, had only compliments Friday.
“I really am optimistic for this project moving forward,” he said.
One of the more enthusiastic supporters was Frerichs, who said the development is a model of 21st century development. The 10-year review of The Cannery went through 10 city commissions, he said.
“We can be thankful that democracy is alive and well in Davis,” he said.
Representatives of The New Home Company congratulated themselves in their work to get the project moving forward. Refreshments were passed around as the morning sun began to simmer a well-dressed crowd.
Todd Platt, CEO of Hillwood Investments, a financier related to the project, said the seriousness with which Davisites take new development was something special. Sometimes frustratingly so, as he jokingly pointed to Ashley Feeney, senior vice president of land and planning at The New Home Company, who helped spearhead the developer’s efforts in Davis.
“People were toasting Ashley for killing himself to get the project done,” Platt said. “I was thinking I was going to kill him if he didn’t get the project done.”
— Reach Dave Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8057.