This is Trackside Center, on 3rd Street, Davis. Or the “under-threat” Trackside Center, as I must call it, for the developers are moving in. I’m not sure of the latest, but what is proposed is to demolish the existing building and build a large six-story complex with apartments and businesses, as well as basement parking, which is part of a plan to re-invigorate 3rd Street as a corridor to campus. Something along those lines, anyway. I sketched the above on the day before Thanksgiving, to capture the colours of autumn in their full glory – it really is spectacularly colourful here in northern California right now. It was chilly though, and the tips of my fingers were feeling numb. I show the railroad crossing – this is not called “Trackside” for nothing – though the tracks themselves were hard to see going across the street so they aren’t in the sketch.
For the sketch above, done a couple of weeks earlier, I focused more on the building. I’d wanted to do a full panorama, but I am panorama-shy lately (can never commit to the two to three hours it takes…) so only did half of it. I used to cycle past here so often on the way back home when I lived in south Davis. The building is covered in paintings of leafy landscapes. Other than that, it’s not anything special, but is home to several good local businesses. That shop on the end is an amazing chocolate shop, I always bring boxes of their choccies home to England with me. If this all gets redeveloped, what will happen to them? I’ve watched progress happen in Davis – my barber on 3rd Street had to relocate to G Street and the old building has been replaced with something more modern (and frankly more solid looking) but it does look alright, and the cafe on the first floor has tables along the sidewalk which creates a, dare I use the cliche, ‘European’ feel. The problem with the proposed building at Trackside however is the size. In the top sketch, I’m showing you the view of sky, which would be gone. It is the residents of Old East Davis who have most to complain about. We don’t have a lot of tall buildings in Davis, and this would block the afternoon sunlight for a good deal of the surrounding residents. As I stood to sketch this, still largely unaware of the details of the project other than what was posted onto a telegraph pole across the street, a man eyed me warily, asking me if I was of the project. “Nah, I’m just a sketcher.” I feel a bit like the Watcher, from the Marvel Universe, there to observe the events but bound by an ancient code of my species not to get involved (plus I wear a toga, am completely bald and live on the Moon). He (the man, not the Watcher) told me a bit more about the proposal, saying it was very controversial and that the residents nearby are very unhappy about its height. Here is an article in the Davis Enterprise about the fight to save the Old East Davis area from over-development: http://www.davisenterprise.com/local-news/old-east-davis-fights-for-the-neighborhood/. I’ll follow the story, and sketch this building a bit more as its fate is determined.