By David J Thompson
Without a doubt, the University Mall site will be the greatest lost opportunity for housing in Davis in this ten year RHNA cycle. At 14+ acres, no other site presents the capacity for affordable housing as does University Mall. In terms of a real (not imagined) site that the developer wishes to re-develop, the closest proximity to the UCD campus of any site, the opportunity to reduce student traffic, an option to swap parking spaces for housing, with thoughtful site planning an ability to accommodate additional stories of housing, a valuable site for affordable housing, the possibilities are endless and the benefits accrue to many of us that envision the future projects that Davis must foster.
There will be no bigger loss to Davis’s needed future if a retail only plan is the regretful permanent outcome. There is no other site within Davis that provides such immediate and real value for the changes we need in land use.
However, it seems like Brixmor is intent on replacing a mall with a mall. In this era which requires a radical rethinking of city planning can we really be so bankrupt of options that a redone mall is the only outcome? We need big changes where we have big opportunities. So the City must turn down the Brixmor plan.
What could change the outcome?
- The City should pause the application process and enter into negotiations with Brixmor as to the best way for the City and the neighborhood to achieve a mixed use project. Every reasonable effort and inducement by the City should be looked at to encourage Brixmor to withdraw this present application and return with a mixed use application.
- Could the City use eminent domain to obtain the site for a housing only proposal that would eliminate the parking structures needed for the commercial site and replace it with housing? Repurposed as just housing at 40 units per acre the site can accommodate 560 apartments of which at 20% around 112 units would be affordable. The most ever affordable units in the history of Davis.
What an achievement that could be for the Davis future many of us want to build.
To the Planning Commission and City Council I ask you to pursue anything except a re-done mall.