The University of California will purchase the former Davis Indoor Sports Center on Second Street in Mace Ranch and soon will transform it into the new home of the university’s statewide Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
The retrofit will include a new second floor that will occupy part of the former skating area, with construction due to begin April 1. The modified building should be ready for ANR to move in before the end of the year.
The DISC building also served for a time as a site for the Explorit Science Center and as a temporary home of the Yolo County Library while its branch on 14th Street was being remodeled and expanded from September 2009 through December 2010.
The facility opened in August 2000 as a 33,400-square-foot indoor sports center, offering volleyball and soccer as well as inline skating and hockey. Explorit moved into 9,700 square feet on the south side of the building in 2006.
But while the DISC program had its loyal supporters, it did not do enough business to keep the doors open. And when state budget reductions for education resulted in fewer field trips, Explorit eventually pulled out of the Second Street location and refocused its programs in its original home on East Fifth Street.
Since 2010, several parties in town had thought about a new use for the building, and they believe they’ve found a match with ANR, a UC division that includes 4-H youth programs, nutrition programs, California Master Gardeners and integrated pest management programs.
“ANR is a statewide program, with programmatic staff in 57 of California’s counties. But the bulk of our operations have been in Davis,” said Jan Corlett, chief of staff to ANR’s vice president Barbara Allen-Diaz. “However, our operations in Davis have been spread over six locations around the campus, some of which can’t be reached by public transportation. We have been wanting for some time to bring these groups together.”
The Second Street location “is great, because the bus goes by and connects with the train station. The public transportation piece is important to us,” Corlett added. “We can also park a fleet of bicycles at the building.”
Corlett added that ANR also liked that the building looks something like a barn — a concept that will be driven home when the entryway is redone with reclaimed barn wood. Master Gardeners will relandscape the outdoor areas with demonstration plantings.
The conversion also will include a horseshoe-shaped second floor in a portion of the former skating area, creating about 9,000 square feet of additional office space, bringing the building’s total area up to 42,000 square feet.
“The building already has skylights, which provide wonderful natural light,” Corlett said. “We will also have conference space big enough for up to 200 people. Currently, when we have all the county directors in for a meeting, we often end up renting space.”
The new conference space at the retrofitted Second Street building will be available for community groups to rent, she added.
“The negotiated purchase price for the building, including all the renovations is $8.1 million, and it will be paid entirely from non-state funds,” Corlett added.
“Once the building is done, a lot of architects are going to be interested in seeing how the building was repurposed. We are expecting a lot of visitors.”
Davis resident Jim Gray, of Cassidy Turley commercial real estate services in Sacramento, added that the retrofit is “on track to get this building LEED-certified (for ‘green’ features), which will be quite an accomplishment.” Modifications include upgrades to the building’s HVAC system, as well as infrastructure for telephone and Internet connections.
Gray added that the project “will be delivered as a turnkey development to the University of California upon completion in the fourth quarter of this year.” Nahz Anvary of Cassidy Turley also was involved in the project.
Ken Hiatt, director of community development and sustainability for the city of Davis, said the city is “thrilled to welcome ANR, a leader in developing solutions for healthier food systems and environments. Co-location of their disciplines into a single 42,000-square-foot facility is a creative and efficient adaptive reuse, filling one of the largest vacant buildings in town. ”
Jeff Harrison, of Harrison Construction, also expressed delight at the deal.
“My dad and I started the building and the (DISC) business in 2000. This will be a good repurpose of the building,” he said. “There are not many properties of this size in the community that can accommodate 150 employees for office space. It is a win-win for the university and ourselves. Everyone is thrilled.”
Other players in the project include John Buckel and Rod Johnson of Capital Partners Development Co. in Rancho Cordova, which owned the portion of the Second Street building that had been occupied by Explorit.
This is not the first time that the University of California has purchased a large, empty building in Davis with freeway frontage. In 1999, UC Davis moved about 125 employees into the former Pacific Standard Life Insurance building on Chiles Road, which had been vacant since 1989, when Pacific Standard dissolved. That project also involved installation of new electrical and Internet infrastructure.
And in 2005, the Yolo County Office of Education moved into a 78,000-square-foot building in Woodland constructed for Valley Media, a music distribution company that was the largest private employer in Yolo County in the 1990s, but then went into bankruptcy as Internet downloads changed consumer buying habits.
The Office of Education converted much of what had been warehouse space into offices and meeting rooms.
— Reach Jeff Hudson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8055.