Local civic and business representatives said Mark Friedman’s $70 million purchase of University Research Park could help reverse a reputation of Davis as a stodgy opponent of commercial development, with a fresh and cool design arriving at a business park close to downtown.
“It’s an important counter-narrative that somehow Davis has missed the boat,” said Mayor Robb Davis, adding that he thought the image of Davis as unfriendly to business was underserved. “It’s important for our community to see that an investor like this — notwithstanding challenges we’ve had — is interested in this community’s potential.”
Friedman wants to introduce new amenities and social events at the research park. The 33-acre complex includes about 6 acres of undeveloped land that Friedman plans to build on.
The park also houses the technology management and corporate relations office of University of California Davis, a division that helps bring university research to market.
Associate vice chancellor Dushyant Pathak said the addition of a tech-focused landlord would help drive a “critical mass of resources” to local startups.
“This puts us on a whole different trajectory,” Pathak said. “It will not only attract startups, entrepreneurs and investors but allow them to flourish.”
Following the political defeat of two proposed business parks on the edges of town this year, the purchase of University Research Park could also raise community awareness that commercial development can have a positive impact, Pathak said.
Peter Tateishi, CEO of the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce, said Friedman is one of a few influential residents of the Sacramento region who can help leverage the economic benefit of the university. The developer is supported by key people on the Davis City Council and in the local tech community, Tateishi said.
“This is where I think the developer matters and Mark Friedman has proven he is with the community,” Tateishi said.