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DAVIS, CA-Reacting to recent studies that show it is losing substantial sales tax money to neighboring areas such as Sacramento, the City of Davis says it is interested in a large retail project near the University of California’s branch campus.

Opus West, which in 2000 proposed a controversial mixed-use project at Fong Ranch, has jumped at the opportunity to switch tracks and work in tandem with the city. Indeed, the company has submitted a preliminary proposal for a 700,000-sf development on a 70-acre parcel near Interstate 80 and Mace Boulevard.

The project, which would double the city’s retail base, is generally slated for big-box anchor tenants, lots of other stores and plenty of eateries. The land for the development has not yet been sold to Opus, but it may already have optioned the property. The property is owned by a private partnership.

Other hurdles to overcome include the city’s reluctance to see big-box retailers within its borders. Traditionally, Davis has been very protective of its smaller retail businesses, and it has yet to consider easing related restrictions. City officials say that a lot of time and consideration must go into this project before it can be approved.

In early 2000, Opus West proposed a huge project at Fong Ranch that would mix big-box retail, smaller stores, restaurants, office space and a 31-acre auto mall. Unlike this latest proposal, however, approval for the Fong Ranch development would have required major amendments to the North Natomas Community Plan, which calls for mostly office uses on the site.

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