Georgia Tech and the city of Atlanta are partners in a business and innovation district called Technology Square. UC Davis President Gary May, formerly the engineering dean at Georgia Tech, wants to partner with Sacramento on a similar district. They have convened a task force that will make recommendations by April 1. Georgia Tech
Georgia Tech and the city of Atlanta are partners in a business and innovation district called Technology Square. UC Davis President Gary May, formerly the engineering dean at Georgia Tech, wants to partner with Sacramento on a similar district. They have convened a task force that will make recommendations by April 1. Georgia Tech

City Beat

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City Beat

A city-university effort worked in Atlanta. Sacramento, UC Davis see similar potential.

By Ryan Lillis

rlillis@sacbee.com

December 27, 2017 03:55 AM

Sacramento city leaders have talked for years about creating stronger connections with the region’s universities, including attempts to bring student housing and large academic facilities downtown.

With relatively new leadership at Sacramento City Hall and at UC Davis, there’s a revived attempt to close what Mayor Darrell Steinberg called “a psychic distance” with the university across the causeway.

Steinberg and UC Davis Chancellor Gary May announced last week they’ve created a task force to research building a new technology and education campus in Sacramento. The task force has been asked to issue recommendations on the site and financing for the tech center – tentatively called Aggie Square – by April 1.

May was formerly dean of the College of Engineering at Georgia Tech, which has a partnership with the city of Atlanta and local businesses on a facility called Technology Square. That campus covers several blocks in the Midtown neighborhood of Atlanta and includes academic facilities, restaurants, shops, condos, offices and a hotel.

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“I’m eager to work with Mayor Steinberg and his team to explore how UC Davis can engage with Sacramento in a broader and sustainable way,” May said. “I have no doubt Aggie Square will be pivotal to the economic well-being of the entire region and state.”

Steinberg toured Technology Square earlier this year and soon after began pitching the model for Sacramento.

“We agree that it’s important to set an aggressive timeline so that 2018 is a year of actually beginning this work and delivering some tangible progress,” the mayor said.

Steinberg said he has not identified a preferred site in Sacramento and said the location “has to work for the university, the city and the business community.” Aggie Square would likely require up to 10 or 12 acres.

The task force will also research how Aggie Square could be financed through public and private resources.

“We’re looking for a partnership,” the mayor said. “Part of what we want to do over these months is look at our existing (funding) tools and what additional tools we may be able to create to expand our capacity.”

The task force is also looking at how to provide more transportation options between Sacramento and the UC Davis campus. Steinberg has floated the idea of establishing frequent electric shuttle bus routes between Davis and Sacramento.

UC Davis Chancellor Gary May was unanimously confirmed by UC regents as the school's next leader earlier this year. May headed the engineering school at Georgia Tech and discusses why he believes colleges should have more diversity. Diana LambertThe Sacramento Bee

Ryan Lillis: 916-321-1085, @Ryan_Lillis