City of Dixon Innovation VillageSeptember 07 2017
City of Dixon Northeast Quadrant Specific Plan Innovation Village presentation to the City Council and Planning Commission Sept 6, 2017
Dixon unveils concept for live-work ‘innovation village’
By Jessica Rogness, The Reporter
Posted: 09/07/17, 5:47 PM PDT | Updated: 8 hrs ago
Dixon could become home to a live-work community with hopes of fostering research and development and new businesses.
The idea on the table is to develop an “innovation village” on 260 acres in the city’s northeast quadrant south of the Interstate 80 interchange at Pedrick Road.
The project, proposed by the Stronach Group, the owners of the property that could have been the Dixon Downs horse racetrack before voters declined it in 2007, is in its very earliest stages. The owners have not yet submitted a formal proposal.
Wednesday, Cleve Livingston, an attorney for the Stronach Group who worked on Dixon Downs 10 years ago, presented a conceptual plan to the Dixon City Council and the Dixon Planning Commission.
There is a lack of homes for new research and development startups coming out of the University of California, Davis, Livingston said.
The university stated a goal to have a project like this in Davis, Dixon City Manager Jim Lindley said, but neither the university or the city of Davis have been successful in developing one.
Two such projects were withdrawn, and a third, the Nishi Gateway, was voted down by Davis voters in 2016.
After Nishi was declined, Dixon started talking with the Stronach Group about such a concept for its own northeast quadrant, the part of the city closest to the university.
“It merely is an idea out on the wind ... but this looks like one we can move forward with,” Lindley said.
Stronach hopes to capture the “youthful energy” of the Silicon Valley, Livingston said.
“What we hope to create is an environment where that energy can really permeate the whole area,” he said.
They imagine a space where four different workforce platforms — research and development, public policy, business incubation and new business — can interact and collaborate.
It would be a compact development with a variety of housing including apartments, townhouses and second and third story residences over retail shops and offices.
The development could bring in as many as 4,000 new residents, Livingston said.
It would be a “complete community” with residents able to get to necessities without leaving the neighborhood. There would be research and development labs for work, a hotel conference center, offices, student and faculty housing, a central village green, community center, retail along Pedrick Road, a civic center, elementary school and library.
Bicycle and pedestrian trails would be built throughout the village, and ideally there would be a bike trail that goes up Pedrick Road to Davis.
Fielding concerns from city councilors and planning commissioners that the village would be isolated from the rest of Dixon, Livingston said they would like to have transit to downtown. Additionally, all Dixon residents would be able to use the community facilities.
The Stronach Group has not yet sat down with the university, he added. They would like to have them involved, but if not, the space designated for their use will be opened up to businesses.
“The Stronach Group really believes that this is a legacy project,” Livingston said, not only economically rewarding but creating a new generation of innovation villages that create products that solve problems.
This site does not yet have the necessary infrastructure, Livingston said, but connections do exist at the boundary of the property, and they can build into the site.
This project would also require amendments to Dixon’s General Plan and the Northeast Quadrant Specific Plan, as well as rezoning the site to a planned development district and completion of environmental reviews.
Currently the Stronach Group wants to complete all those steps in 12 to 15 months.
The city would parallel this with its ongoing General Plan Update, incorporating this project into that plan, City Attorney Doug White said.
TEC Equipment, a commercial truck dealership, still plans to build at a site immediately adjacent to the Interstate 80 interchange. This village would be south of that site.
Mayor Thom Bogue said he sees this is as a real opportunity for high-tech jobs.
The housing density of the project did not worry him, and he added this will open up further development in the area.
Kevin Johnson, chair of the planning commission, said Dixon has two major shortages, jobs and housing, and this tackles both.
“I also think it’s in a creative, very innovative way,” he said.
Vice Mayor Scott Pederson said this will spur economic growth and help them push development toward Wal-Mart, which is to the southwest of this site.
He was concerned with the density of 4,000 people at this site, and said they also have the southwest quadrant of the city to look to, but otherwise was supportive.
“I think this is an excellent thing,” Pederson said. “We need to take our blinders off and look toward the future.”
The density of the project concerned planning commissioner Jim Ernest as well, but it will add jobs, he said.
“This is something to offer to stop the brain drain from Dixon,” he said.
Councilman Devon Minnema said he likes this “new generation” of housing.
His concern was that the new retail not negatively affect downtown restaurants and businesses.
“Otherwise I think this is intriguing,” he said. “I think we can work with it.”
Dixon resident Michael Ceremello, however, said the city is looking at this “five-story stack and pack” housing” with “rose-colored glasses.”
“Nothing of this is Dixon,” he said.
But Herb Cross said when he was on the council, “This is exactly what we were talking about.”
He added that West Sacramento and downtown Sacramento have been trying to get a project like this.
“Incredible,” he said. “What an opportunity.”