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Davis Voters Approve Contentious Student Housing Project

City of Davis / Courtesy

Davis residents approved Measure J, which will convert agriculture land near UC Davis into 700 apartments.

City of Davis / Courtesy

By Allen Young

Davis voters passed Measure J on Tuesday, which will convert agricultural land near the university into 700 apartment units for student rental housing.

The so-called Nishi student housing measure was contentious. Supporters argued that new rental living spaces in a dense college city was needed, while opponents wanted to preserve agricultural land.

Davis Mayor Robb Davis says the measure will be an economic boost for downtown. “Nishi passing means that we put 2,000 students on the doorstep, not only to the university where they will walk and bike to class not using their cars, but it also puts them on the doorstep of our downtown,” he said.

Critics opposed the project due to its proximity to the Interstate 80 freeway. The 46-acre parcel in Davis lies just west of the Richards Boulevard westbound exit, between I-80 and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks.

The development will also include up to 10,000  square feet of ground-floor retail and office space.

At least 330 of the residential beds would be set aside for low-income students. Private vehicles could only access the development through UC Davis, not through Olive Drive. The measure also would leave undeveloped 13 acres of open space.

An earlier proposal of the Nishi project, called the Nishi Gateway innovation center, failed in June 2016. To increase its appeal this time, supporters of the measure only included rental housing, not condominiums and office and research facilities.

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