From the Santa Cruz Sentinel: http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/business/20171205/santa-cruz-county-unveils-davenport-cemex-plant-reuse-options

By: Nicholas Ibarra

DAVENPORT >> Out of the four Cemex plant reuse options unveiled at a Tuesday evening community meeting, one appeared to fly high above the rest: a bid by a locally owned aviation company to use the derelict industrial site as its new headquarters.

The three additional scenarios presented by county-hired consultants were to turn the 104-acre site into a lodge additional cabins and camp sites, a recreation-oriented conference center of comparable size to Asilomar in Pacific Grove, or 300 units of senior housing.

All four of the proposals would include a visitor center, rest rooms and public parking — clear priorities that emerged at a previous public meeting for the small North Coast community.

Each proposal, including the aviation option, would also include at least 75 cabins to accommodate North Coast visitors, and each would carry an estimated development cost in excess of $100 million.

More than 200 people packed the meeting room at Pacific Elementary School, including a sizeable portion of Davenport’s 400 residents and many others from nearby coastal communities and Bonny Doon.

Some at the meeting expressed dissatisfaction with the level of detail included in each proposal, but Debbie Rudd, a principal at RRM design group, said presenting the scenarios at such an early stage was done by design.

“We’re purposely coming to you before we have all the information because we want to get your gut instinct,” Rudd said.

Others expressed concern with regard to proposals’ substantial size. But Santa Cruz County Supervisor Ryan Coonerty said that only a sizeable project would be economically viable for the site.

Following a presentation on each of the housing and lodging alternatives by the consultants, Joby Aviation founder Joe-Ben Bevirt shared his own far-reaching vision for his company and the site.

The man who has been called the “Elon Musk of Santa Cruz” began the presentation with an image of his birth certificate, showing that he was born on nearby Last Chance Road.

The innovator of a popular flexible camera tripod has in recent years set his sights much higher: building personal electric aircraft usable by commuters.

Now flush with funding, Joby Aviation is looking to expand its operations to a new headquarters.

“We can only do that if you all are with us,” Bivert told the crowd.

While some remained skeptical about potential impacts and lack of detail, the bold vision combined with Bivert’s status as a local to the community appeared to go a long way.

When at the end of the meeting the crowd were asked to place dots on their preferred option, Joby Aviation soared above the rest.

Based on the demand for more detail about each of the plans, however, Coonerty said the county will schedule an additional community input meeting in coming weeks before settling on a preferred alternative.

In the meantime, those interested can review information about each of the scenarios and submit comments at co.santa-cruz.ca.us/DavenportCementPlant.aspx

Founded in 1906, the Cemex plant produced cement for major statewide infrastructure projects such as the Golden Gate and Bay bridges as well as the California Aqueduct. It closed its gates for good in 2010 in the face of an economic downturn and high upkeep costs. Cemex continues to own the property, but is actively looking for a buyer who could work with the county to overcome environmental and zoning obstacles.