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Davis Innovation Center team fields questions

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Sherry Venezia poses a question to John Hodgson, project director of the Davis Innovation Center, during a community meeting Thursday at city chambers. Fred Gladdis/Enterprise photo

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From page A1 | August 29, 2014 |

Community meetings about development projects in Davis can go in a number of directions.

At the first community meeting for the Davis Innovation Center project Thursday night at Community Chambers, questions from the 35-member strong audience were typical of Davis: very thoughtful and concerned about both the little details and the big picture.

But most questions revolving around the idea for the 207-acre center, which would exist on a T-shaped plot near Sutter Davis Hospital, were not the kind that asked about new jobs — an aspect touted by the city as a way to beg off future taxes to support vital city services and those extras considered vital to keeping Davis, Davis.

They were about how green the innovation center could get. This is Davis, after all.

If anyone could deliver on that, it is the people behind the innovation center idea, an A-team of large-scale research park development and top LEED-certified developments.

There’s Hines, a global company who helped Duke University and the University of North Carolina build innovation parks and also built the CalPERS building and other major upscale commercial buildings in Sacramento.

There’s SKK Developments, a company with mixed-use developments in California, Oregon, Colorado and Nevada valued at $900 million, run by former UC Davis Graduate School of Management Executive-residence Sotiris Kolokotronis.

There’s Pioneer Law Group, handling the legal end of things, which was part of the negotiating team for the new arena for the Sacramento Kings.

There’s the face of the project, John Hodgson, a UCD graduate and project director for the Davis Innovation Center, who runs a company that handles development and land use entitlements around Northern California.

And, in a nod to environmental concerns, AECOM, an architectural design firm that designs LEED-certified green buildings.

Hodgson led a short presentation on the idea of the innovation center and answered questions about the center along with representatives of the various development partners.

Longtime Davis resident Jim Gray advised what was a representative concern of the audience about bicycle circulation.

“You need to think through how you do some linkages,” he said, adding that shuttle buses were also a fix for green-centered transportation to Amtrak and downtown, and that the developers and the city shouldn’t get tied to angling for only certain companies.

“We have no idea where this economy is going to go,” Gray said.

Of course the big question of the night came from one woman who asked how close the team could get to net-zero energy.

The answer from the team was one that was repeated a couple of times throughout the presentation about details that would emerge later: As the idea is just an idea so far, a formal proposal will come in mid-September and then vetted through environmental review, the City Council and, ultimately, voters through a Measure R vote, the team didn’t know.

That was something they would put on their design list because the community was concerned about it.

And that was a major part of the whole reason for having a community meeting, taking down concerns.

— Reach Dave Ryan at dryan@davisenterprise.net or call 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter at @davewritesnews

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