Davis city leaders are poised to review two hotel projects in the coming weeks, as developers are buoyed by increasing enrollment at UC Davis and the growth of businesses in the college town.
While developers Presidio Cos. and Jackson Properties have proposed similar $25 million hotels, reaction from the community has been noticeably different.
Jackson’s Residence Inn, a Marriott franchise, has faced little resistance from neighbors. The four-story, 120-room inn would be located next to the Target off Mace Boulevard, far from a residential area.
Presidio’s Hyatt House, on the other hand, has encountered tremendous opposition, as its location on Cowell Boulevard is right next to several single-family homes. At issue are the height and number of floors, as well as the lack of parking spaces.
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“A hotel is a 24-hour a day, seven-days-a-week business. This is not something we feel should be an acceptable use for land that is so close to a neighborhood of single-family homes,” said Alissa Burnett, a veterinarian who lives adjacent to the project on Albany Avenue.
Burnett and 50 households in the vicinity have organized to oppose the hotel. A letter sent this week to the city by their attorney, Donald Mooney, threatened a lawsuit. Burnett said she would like to see the building scaled back to three floors and additional underground parking added as conditions for the development to move forward.
Guneet Bajwa, co-developer of Presidio Cos., said he has already made several concessions, including the addition of a wood and metal screen on the third- and fourth-floor windows to protect neighbors’ privacy. The Hyatt House will be the nation’s first zero-net electricity hotel, according to Bajwa. While some have complained about the size, Bajwa said there needs to be “a certain scale” to be profitable.
“The 120 rooms is where this thing makes complete sense,” he said.
The establishment will have 112 parking spaces, which is below the city’s standard of one space per room. Bajwa argues that employees and guests will use alternative transportation methods, including bicycles, ride-sharing and the bus system. But neighbors say the in-house wine bar will surely draw non-hotel guests.
Burnett fears the Hyatt will create even more congestion, noting that patrons of the gymnastics school next door already park on the street. She worries that hotel employees will park on Albany Avenue, since it opens to a greenbelt that borders the project site.
Both the Marriott and Hyatt projects have been placed on hold, after the City Council initially took up the proposals last week. The council is scheduled to discuss both items at its Nov. 15 meeting.
The City Council wants more time for the parties to reach a compromise before voting on the initative. For the Residence Inn proposal, city leaders are asking the developer for more green features, including solar panels and gold certification for LEED, short for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design.
The Hyatt and Marriott hotels are expected to bring tax revenue of about $1 million annually to city coffers. Officials have been cautious to examine all concerns, especially after a group of residents filed suit against a six-story hotel and conference center off Richards Boulevard earlier this year. A court date has not been set.
Mayor Robb Davis described the Hyatt as “the exact type of project that the city is asking people to put up,” noting the green design. The $25 million building is expected to achieve LEED gold.
The city of Davis has been eyed by hotel developers recently due to its aging stock of rooms and new student growth at UC Davis. Market studies showed guests were forced to stay elsewhere, such as in Sacramento, Vacaville and Woodland, because they couldn’t find lodging in Davis, according to John Jackson, owner of Jackson Properties.
“We thought (Davis) was under-hoteled,” Jackson said.
In 2008, UC Davis officials built a new hotel on campus as part of their strategy to increase enrollment, particularly of international students. A 75-room Hyatt Place at the south entrance of the campus opened to much fanfare in 2010. High occupancy eventually allowed the developer to construct a second wing of 52 rooms. The Hyatt Place has four floors, the most of any hotel currently standing in the city.