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Nishi property back before City Council

By From page A1 | February 11, 2014

Learn more

Who: Davis City Council

When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Community Chambers, City Hall, 23 Russell Blvd.

Watch it: Live on Comcast Channel 16 and AT&T U-Verse Channel 99; streamed at www.cityofdavis.org

They’re calling it the Downtown University Gateway District.

It’s a joint planning initiative involving the city, UC Davis, a county land-use agency and a property owner that is headed back before the City Council on Tuesday.

The report will include what Mike Webb — city director of community development and sustainability — said would be a lengthy presentation on different visions of how the university, city and property owner might develop the site with access by vehicle and bike to the university and downtown.

Those plans offer the most fleshed-out vision so far of an innovation park and research district that could, in theory, house businesses that would pull city finances into the black in the long term.

City staff, UCD representatives and a consultant, Perkins + Will, will each present different aspects of the project, focusing on land uses, open space, transportation connections, sustainability and neighborhood transitions.

The proposed development includes 42 acres in the UC Davis East Village, 11 acres along Olive Drive and 45 acres on what is called the Nishi Property, although it’s owned by Tim Ruff. The Nishi property abuts the university on it southeast side, near the Mondavi Center.

The long presentation Tuesday night is also a couple of years in the making.

In 2012 the city, county and the campus applied to the Strategic Growth Council for a sustainable communities planning grant. According to a city staff report, competition was stiff and the application didn’t make it.

The same year, the City Council approved a funding and negotiation agreement for the Nishi property. It also committed $100,000 for the pre-development of the property.

At the time, city development staff and the property owner, officially called Nishi Gateway, LLC, wanted to build the property up into 600 units of high-density housing, plus research and business space.

The owner and the city agreed to share the costs of pre-development. The price tag could rise, however. Because the 45-acre Nishi property is outside of city and university boundaries, it will require a yes vote of the majority of voters as a Measure R issue.

Following the presentation and any instructions from City Council, staff and other representatives plan on taking the idea to the people in a series of meetings.

First would be so-called stakeholders, which include adjacent property owners and the business community, then public workshops to test whether the ideas fit “community culture and character.”

City staff is set to recommend that the city hire a public outreach consultant to engage with the community.

— Reach Dave Ryan at 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter at @davewritesnews.com

Dave Ryan

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