By Roberta Millstein
The proposed Mace Ranch Innovation Center (MRIC) is back, now reborn as the Aggie Research Campus (ARC).
In Spring 2016, the developers of the proposed MRIC decided to put the project on hold, citing “higher than expected costs” and a less-than-promising economic analysis. This was actually the second hold on the project, the developers having suspended the project once before, then having brought it back, then having suspended it again.
When the proposal was suspended for the second time, some City analysis had been done, but some commissions were still in the process of analyzing the proposal, such as the Finance and Budget Commission, the Natural Resources Commission, and the Open Space and Habitat Commission (as I noted in a letter to the editor in the Enterprise after the first hold).
Now as UCD and DJUSD let out for summer vacations, the developers have returned to request that the City resume processing their application. See the following letter addressed to the members of the Davis City Council:
The Mace Ranch “innovation center” (i.e., business park) would have occupied a considerable-sized 200 acres of prime farmland to the north and east of Davis’s current city limits, triggering a Measure R vote.
The details of the new ARC proposal will no doubt be forthcoming, but, according to the letter, the proposal will include “workforce housing… laboratory office, R&D, prototyping and product manufacturing space.” The MRIC proposal did not include any housing, although it was discussed informally and was included in some form in the Environmental Impact Report (EIR).
The letter states that the developers are requesting “only those entitlements necessary to move the Aggie Research Campus to a measure R vote,” noting that that “only after a tenant decides to locate at the Aggie Research Campus will [they] seek more preferences.” The developers want to avoid “prematurely prescribing every detail of the development.”
As for the name “Aggie Research Campus,” the developers seek to highlight “a connection to research conducted at UC Davis,” although there is no indication in the letter that UCD has any role in the project.
So, it will be interesting to see exactly what is in the new proposal. No doubt, Davisites will be hearing much more about the ARC proposal in the months to come.