The city of Sacramento and UC Davis announced Thursday that they will build a large technology and innovation campus on the university's medical center property, along the Stockton Boulevard corridor bordering Oak Park.
The center, called Aggie Square, would sit on 25 acres that the university has set aside for a research and innovation district. The site could eventually fit about 1 million square feet of research space, parks and entertainment venues. Housing may be built on private land bordering the campus.
UC Davis Chancellor Gary May and Mayor Darrell Steinberg said the campus would serve as a research center, teaching space and job creator aimed at providing the university with a strong presence on the Sacramento side of the Yolo Causeway. The site will be modeled after Technology Square, a multi-block academic and entertainment district in Midtown Atlanta.
May said Aggie Square would "create a hub of innovation and community-building here in Sacramento to advance both our academic and research missions and to bolster the economic vitality of the city." May was formerly a dean of the College of Engineering at Georgia Tech, a partner in Atlanta's tech center.
University and city officials said Aggie Square development would take years, and Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, said it would eventually cost "tens of millions, if not hundreds, for this to be implemented."
Steinberg focused on the chosen location for the center. Stockton Boulevard was picked over sites in downtown, North Natomas and at the Sacramento Center for Innovation, a mostly-industrial area seven miles east of downtown near Highway 50 and California State University, Sacramento.
Councilman Jay Schenirer, who represents Oak Park, said the campus would provide a "job catalyst" for people living in the neighborhood.
"The direction is clear and cannot be repeated enough: as we grow a dynamic economy and take advantage of all of our institutions and assets, that growth must be tied to our neighborhoods, our communities, especially our communities of color," the mayor said.
Joany Titherington, president of the Oak Park Neighborhood Association, said "the opportunity is meaningful for our community."
"This is equity for not just our community, but it helps to level the playing field for everyone else in Sacramento in other neighborhoods," she said. "We are absolutely thrilled about having this opportunity to have Aggie Square right here in the Oak Park area."
Research and medical offices already dot the Stockton Boulevard corridor near the hospital campus. City officials have long envisioned an expanded "med zone" in the area.
A conceptual map of the tech center shows a cluster of buildings facing the east side of Stockton Boulevard between Second Avenue and Broadway. The campus would have a "main street" and several small parks.
May and Steinberg have talked for months about partnering on Aggie Square. They convened a task force last year to explore potential sites and financing options. They are also looking into building quicker, more reliable transportation options between Davis and Sacramento, possibly using a fleet of electric buses over the Causeway.
McCarty said he would push for "a couple million dollars" in the May budget revision process to help pay for the planning stages of Aggie Square. Steinberg said he expects the city of Sacramento to contribute, but did not provide specifics. May said the university would also raise money for the project.
"More economic activity here is certainly a win for the neighborhoods up and down Stockton Boulevard," McCarty said. "For the city of Sacramento, we're looking to diversify our economy ... and we're looking to get more technology, more innovation right here in the capital city and this is a wonderful opportunity to further those goals."
McCarty said the campus would free up space at the main UC Davis campus to admit more students. McCarty has pushed for the UC system to enroll more students from California.