$1.1 billion Sarcamento UC Davis project to create thousands of jobs — and potentially major housing challenges.

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An artist rendering shows a view of the planned Aggie Square development project on the UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento. UC DAVIS

A planned massive development at the University of California Davis campus in Sacramento is expected to create a significant number of construction jobs — but could cause a serious housing crisis in the neighbourhood.

The Sacramento Bee reports that the Aggie Square “technology and innovation campus” has caused anxiety that it will displace longtime low- and middle-income families in the surrounding neighborhoods of Oak Park and Tahoe Park.

Once the UC Board of Regents clears the project, construction is expected in the first half of 2021 on the development’s $1.1 billion first phase. There will be four buildings – three for lab, classroom and research space and one for the housing and retail.

Baltimore-based Wexford Science and Technology is the developer, and Sacramento-based Whiting-Turner will be the construction subcontractor, Bob Segar, a UC Davis assistant vice-chancellor serving as planning director for Aggie Square, told the newspaper.

The Bee says a July report relating to housing plans added to concerns when it revealed that the only new housing that will be built at Aggie Square will be 295 apartments for students at $1,900 a month.

No additional housing units are planned on the site, Segar said. However, the 285 units could include some that are more affordable and some open to non-students, the Bee quoted him as saying.

However, the project is expected to create many more jobs — upwards of 3,600 positions to the site at Stockton Boulevard and Second Avenue, not counting construction jobs. “”Many worry the new employees will flood the surrounding rental market, driving up prices and forcing current renters out,” the newspaper reported.

The city hopes that displacement may be averted  through a special tax district.

The city could create an Enhanced Infrastructure Financing District along a portion of Stockton Boulevard, south of Aggie Square, in the hopes of sparking development on the long-vacant lots there, City councilman Eric Guerra said. The idea is to take a portion of the new tax money the development would normally generate for the city budget and redirect it toward paying for needed infrastructure improvements at the site and the project would be more affordable for the developer to build.

The newspaper also quoted Guerra as saying that Los Angeles-area developer Dan Weinstein is also considering building housing along Stockton Boulevard between Ninth and 10th avenues.

In addition to the estimated 3,600 on-site jobs expected in 2023 from Phase 1, the second phase will bring an additional 1,800 on-site jobs several years after, Segar said.

There is currently nothing binding in writing to ensure that, but there will be, Segar said.

Project leaders, working with the mayor’s office and in partnership with local community colleges, will also target residents of nearby ZIP codes for non-construction jobs, Segar said. Those could include a program focusing on stem cell manufacturing, which will hire people with associates degrees as lab technicians through partnerships with local community colleges such as Sacramento City College, he said.

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