Hotel conference center plans move forward

UC Davis today released a new initial study of its hotel conference center project - a report that places the facilities next to the Buehler Alumni and Visitors Center and close to the Center for the Arts.

Earlier this week Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef sent a letter to the Davis City Council and the Yolo County Board of Supervisors, informing them of the next steps UC Davis plans to take on the project. The letter was sent a week after the city council - fearing the facilities could hurt downtown business - requested that UC Davis build the center and hotel in Davis on adjacent land that could be annexed to the city.

But Vanderhoef, in his letter, says those sites "are not practical and are not in the best interests of the campus's academic objectives for the project."

A hotel and conference center site adjacent to the alumni and visitors center and the Center for the Arts is part of the campus's overall plan to provide new links between the public and the university, said Marj Dickinson, assistant vice chancellor for government and community relations.

"(The facilities) are mutually supportive of each other," she said. "We are trying to maximize the size of the conferences we can hold."

The site, Dickinson added, was also selected in response to long-standing requests from the city to divert campus traffic to the Old Davis Road access.

The project site includes space for a 75,000-square-foot conference center with a ballroom and meeting space for 500, a 40,000-square-foot hotel with 75 guest rooms and a restaurant and pub, as well as room for the Graduate School of Management and University Relations departments. The facilities are expected to be completed in late 2003.

Developed in 1999, the original hotel conference center proposal included 150 hotel rooms. The campus originally drafted an environmental study of the project in September 2000 but delayed the project to work with the city, county and business owners. The parties hoped to mitigate a short-term negative impact on local hotels that industry consultants found when they looked at the project.

The new plan calls for hotel guests to pay an additional 3 percent in lieu fee in addition to Yolo County's 8 percent occupancy charge. Guests staying in Davis hotels pay a 10 percent room tax and a 1 percent levy, which goes to the Davis Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Vanderhoef said he believes the 3 percent tax will be used to pay the university's membership in the Davis Conference and Visitors Bureau and support city-campus marketing efforts such as a tram service between the campus hotel and downtown.

"Our objective is to assure these funds are invested in achieving our collective intent to increase occupancy in local hotels (generating the additional transient occupancy and sales taxes revenues so critical to both the city and the county) and to encourage patronage of downtown Davis businesses," he wrote.

The updated project will go before the UC Regents in January. It has received the endorsement of the Davis Area Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Davis Business Association and local hotel owners and the support of the county Board of Supervisors.

Dickinson said she expects campus administrators, the city, county and business owners will have several more discussions on the project as the environmental review progresses and other issues emerge.

The hotel conference center report is available on the Web at Copies also are available at the Office of Resource Management and Planning and the reserve reading rooms of Shields Library, the Davis branch of the Yolo County Library and the Vacaville Public Library.

Written comments may be submitted through Sept. 17 to the Office of Resource Management and Planning, 376 Mrak Hall, or e-mailed to

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