Revised Trackside Center Still Drawing Criticism

DAVIS -- Developers of the controversial new Trackside Center bordering downtown Davis say they've compromised a lot after numerous community meetings.

They submitted a downsized plan for a retail and residential complex on Third Street next to the railroad tracks. That includes reducing the number of apartment units from 48 to 27 and proposing a four-story high building instead of the original six-story plan.

But the Old East Davis Neighborhood Association, which has spearheaded a campaign to reduce the height of the project to two stories isn't satisfied.

"It's still four stories...It will be a looming silhouette that will change the historic character of the neighborhood," said Rhonda Reed, association president.

But Kemble Pope, one of 40 Davis investors who want to provide more downtown infill housing for residents close to the Amtrak station, said they attempted to satisfy neighbors.

The portion of the building closest to an alley that separates existing houses to the project was lowered to three stories and more space was included in the alley by putting in a pedestrian walkway.

"The 27 units and the 9,000-square-feet of commercial is really what we need to have to make this project work in order to get a bank to finance," Pope said.

But Reed said zoning guidelines are not being followed by the developers.

"It doesn't fit the design guidelines that are intended to make a transition from our traditional neighborhood into the downtown core area," Reed said.

But Pope said there is a shortage of housing in the downtown area where a growing number of people want to live. He noted that the site was historically an industrial plot of land, and that there is now a mix of two-story apartment buildings and retail businesses throughout the neighborhood.

"We have to build housing near where people work densely, near transit, and oftentimes that means redeveloping areas where perhaps people hadn't about that," said Pope.

He said it's likely the city council will have to resolve the conflict between neighbors' rights and the needs of the city as a whole.

Numerous public meetings are planned before a number of commissions before the city council is expected to decide on the new plan, perhaps by the end of the year.