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YOLO COUNTY NEWS
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Council decision paves way for new stores to open near Target

TargetNewStores.FH10

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From page A1 | December 13, 2012 |

Target soon may get some company over in Mace Ranch.

With a 4-1 vote, the Davis City Council finally gave the thumbs up Tuesday to site changes that will allow smaller-sized retailers to open stores on the Target pads that hug the northern edge of the Second Street Crossing, just west of Mace Boulevard.

The four pads, which were approved along with Target through Measure K in 2006, have remained unbuilt since the big-box retailer opened in Davis in 2009.

According to city community development staff, the new stores could generate $100,000 per year in sales tax revenue, a point not lost on Councilman Lucas Frerichs, who voted in favor of the deal.

“I think it’s providing much-needed sales tax dollars to the city’s general fund, which certainly is used for the programs and the services that the city of Davis offers,” Frerichs said.

“And frankly, there’s an amount of service level that citizens have come to expect in this community and truly value and I think this proposed project helps fund those types of programs and services.”

Downtown retailers had feared that allowing the changes to the store sizes would hurt business in the Core Area, especially since Target offers ample parking and ease of access.

But Stewart Savage, co-director of Davis Downtown, voiced his and his association’s support for the changes during public comment.

“We don’t have any concerns because the square-foot restrictions on it are above what you would typically find in downtown Davis,” Savage said. “The 4,000 square feet … we have very few properties that fit in that category.”

Second Street Crossing’s new developer, Buzz Oates Construction, has received a commitment from T.J. Maxx to move into the 25,000-square-foot space, the largest of the four pads, and plans to be open by next fall.

That leaves just two 7,500-square-foot pads and one with 6,000 square feet.

The significance is that under the original development agreement, apparel stores smaller than 8,000 square feet and community retailers — like appliance, electronic and home furnishing stores — smaller than 10,000 square feet were not permitted in the development.

And with T.J. Maxx in the picture, gobbling up the entire large pad on its own, no other apparel or community retail store would fit in the remaining spaces.

So, at Oates’ request, the City Council agreed Tuesday to reduce those minimums to 4,000 square feet for apparel and community retail stores.

That decision may pay off sooner rather than later.

Oates representatives told the Davis Planning Commission in October that it had letters of intent from Vitamin Shoppe, an undisclosed cell phone retailer and an undisclosed quick-serve restaurant to fill some of the space.

Additionally, they’ve said they’re close to striking deals with footwear, bedding, furniture, pet supplies and apparel retailers.

But even with all the potential tenants, one council member wasn’t completely sold on the deal.

Councilman Brett Lee, the lone dissenting vote, said it wasn’t obvious to him that the city would greatly benefit from the changes.

“What we’re not seeing clearly is a rough estimate of the magnitude of additional sales tax revenue we, the community, would get,” Lee said. “I know that downtown is comfortable with the (new) restrictions … but I’m not completely convinced.”

The rest of the council, however, was comfortable moving forward with the project proposal.

Along with lowering the minimum square-foot requirements on apparel and community retail stores, the council also approved increasing the number of restaurants allowed from two to four and upping the total square footage dedicated to restaurants in general from 4,000 to 10,000 square feet.

Telecommunications stores as small as 2,000 square feet will be permitted as well.

The proposal the council approved Tuesday also altered the maximum allowance of “neighborhood retail” from 10 percent of the overall 46,000 square feet to 25 percent. Neighborhood retail includes personal services, such as a beauty salon and supply, video rental and dry cleaning.

Dan Ramos of Ramco Enterprises Inc., a partner with Oates on the development, has said he would like the project to better serve the surrounding Mace Ranch neighborhood. The additional neighborhood retail space may help him do just that.

Other deal points that could serve the neighborhood include construction of a new bus shelter on Second Street in front of Target, complete with a built-in electronic schedule board to help commuters catch buses in a timely manner; additional bike parking; and improved landscaping and greenbelt access throughout the development.

Meanwhile, separate from the changes to the Target pads, the council directed staff to begin working with Davis Downtown and the Davis Chamber of Commerce on their Richards Boulevard tunnel beautification project.

Michael Bisch, co-president of Davis Downtown, had tried to leverage tax dollars at the last council meeting for the project in exchange for the association’s support of the Target pad changes, but the council didn’t approve the deal.

Instead, the city will collaborate with the two business associations to refine the scope of the project, which could include a “welcoming arch” in front of the Richards tunnel and enhanced landscaping and lighting, and develop a cost estimate.

The council plans to revisit the project in January to determine whether it wants to try to pursue funding sources.

— Reach Tom Sakash at tsakash@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter at @TomSakash

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Tom Sakash

Tom Sakash covers the city beat for The Davis Enterprise. Reach him at tsakash@davisenterprise.net, (530) 747-8057 or @TomSakash.
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