Davis needs an expanded retail project at U-Mall, not another mega-dorm
By Eileen M. Samitz
The owner of University Mall, Brixmor Property Group, has proposed a renovation of this important community shopping center that opened in 1966. The effort would demolish 90,563 sq. ft. of the existing University Mall building and replace it with a mixed-use development comprised of 136,800 sq. ft. of retail space, 264 multi-family housing units, and a 3-level, 246,000 sq. ft. parking structure. The existing 13,200 sq. ft. Trader Joe’s store would remain, resulting in a shopping center with 150,000 sq. ft. of retail space. The ARCO service station on the southeast corner of the site is not part of the project.
This “University Commons” project would total 795,300 sq. ft., meaning the retail space would occupy just 17% of the building area. The single greatest use of space would be the residential area, comprising 412,500 sq. ft., or almost 52%. Parking would consume 246,000 sq. ft., or almost 31%. Brixmor says the residential units could be rented by anyone, but concedes that most of the apartments will be occupied by students. In other words, the project would become an ultra-dense residential project with window dressing retail that would likely focus on being student-serving, rather than the original intent of having businesses that serve the entire Davis community.