Aggie Square update: Jobs, workforce training, affordable housing and more discussed at Dec. 17 community meeting

More than 80 people on Dec. 17 attended a virtual community meeting led by Councilmembers Eric Guerra and Jay Schenirer to discuss the Aggie Square project, which would expand the university’s Sacramento campus on Stockton Boulevard and create a state-of-the-art hub for research, innovation and education.

Hundreds more watched the community meeting on Facebook Live to learn about the project — a partnership between UC Davis, the City and Wexford Science and Technology — and what’s being done to ensure that the neighborhoods surrounding Aggie Square benefit from the development.

Guerra and Schenirer said they plan to host another meeting in January as the City moves closer to adopting a community benefits agreement and creating an enhanced infrastructure financing district (EIFD), to assist in the funding of the $1.1 billion project.

The community benefits agreement, which will be signed by the City, will spell out the neighborhood benefits the project will deliver in terms of jobs, workforce training, affordable housing and more.

As part of the EIFD, the City would redirect $30 million in future property taxes generated by Aggie Square back into the development of the project, with UC Davis funding the majority of the cost.

In addition, a portion of the increased property tax stream would be earmarked to pay for affordable housing in the surrounding neighborhood.

“There’s no doubt that Aggie Square has benefits for the region, but what’s critically important is that the project benefit the adjacent neighborhood,” Guerra said in kicking off Thursday’s meeting.

Aggie Square is one of the top economic development priorities of Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, and it has the potential to be one of the most significant additions to Sacramento’s economy in decades. Six hundred thousand square feet of new laboratory space will house not just UC Davis researchers but also private companies that can turn that research into jobs and contracts.

The “knowledge community” being built by Wexford Science and Technology will also include housing for 400 UC Davis students, classes for lifelong education and training and the Alice Waters Institute for Edible Education. It will include space for community use, public plazas and a public market.

“Aggie Square will create — for the first time in Sacramento — shared lab space that can be leased by start-up companies to grow into bigger companies in Sacramento,” said Bob Segar, UC Davis’ planning director for the project.

Aggie Square is projected to generate 5,000 construction jobs after it breaks ground next year and between 3,500 and 5,000 ongoing jobs once it is up and running.

“If this project were out for bid, if it wasn’t tethered to Oak Park, cities would be falling all over themselves competing for it,” Schenirer said.

Here are some of the key elements of Aggie Square and the potential community benefits described in Thursday’s meeting:

Affordable Housing

  • UC Davis has agreed that 20 percent of the increased property taxes generated by the enhanced infrastructure financing district will go toward building affordable housing. This housing does not need to be on the UC Davis campus but can be in the surrounding area.
  • Currently, more than 700 units of housing are in the planning stages along the Stockton Boulevard corridor. About 400 of these are slated to be affordable.
  • UC Davis and Wexford will contribute up to $400,000 to help launch a plan to bring more affordable housing to Stockton Boulevard. A key source of financing for the units will be a second EIFD to benefit the boulevard. Those funds could be used entirely for housing. “We know it’s a critical need,” Schenirer said.

Jobs & Job Training

  • Jobs for Range of Skills.  More than a quarter of the new jobs created are not expected to require a four-year degree.
  • Increased access to UC Davis Jobs. In advance of the project, UC Davis will work with community organizations to improve the ability of people living in nearby zip codes of need to apply for jobs on the existing Sacramento campus. This effort includes job fairs, partnerships on workforce readiness training, and more.
  • Job Training. Aggie Square will house a new life sciences training consortium to train local residents to fill jobs in the development. Spearheaded by UC Davis, the consortium will include community colleges, Sacramento State University, community-based organizations and industry programs.
  • Local Construction Jobs. UC Davis is finalizing a “local hire” agreement with the Sacramento Sierra Building Trades Council to meet targets for hiring residents from nearby zip codes with high levels of poverty, or who come from disadvantaged groups.

Better Transportation Options

  • UC Davis will find ways to improve mobility around the campus and along the busy Stockton and Broadway corridor. This includes potential new bus or bike lanes alongside Aggie Square and up Stockton Boulevard to V Street. The university is working on plans for a signalized intersection on Third Avenue.
  • The City is working on a larger plan for Stockton Boulevard that includes bus lanes, doubling the number of crosswalks, widening sidewalks and adding 23 new bus stop shelters.

Construction on Aggie Square could begin in the first half of 2021 if it receives all the necessary approvals. Please visit the City’s Aggie Square webpage for updates on the project

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