L.A. developers David Fishbein and Joseph Miller of Runyon are totally revamping the Las Aves complex at Los Patos Way and E. Cabrillo Boulevard, which they bought in May for $19.25 million. “When we first saw the property, we were struck by the incredible landscaping, the character of the buildings, and that beautiful courtyard,” said Fishbein. “Most people have no idea it even exists.” He’s not kidding; whenever I mention Las Aves to anyone, they’ve rarely set foot on the property, which really is lovely (and has lots of parking).
The new development will be called The Post: “We like the idea of people ‘posting up’ there—a community gathering space, a place to grab a coffee or hang out with their kids.” Like Platform, Runyon’s popular Culver City development, The Post will have an eclectic mix of merchants, but “totally geared to the community of Santa Barbara and Montecito.” The plan currently calls for one full-service restaurant and, at the corner of Cabrillo and Los Patos, something along the lines of a bakery or café, with a patio to beckon people in. Beyond that, they’ll shift away from the services that currently dominate Las Aves and toward retail, particularly apparel.
The timing is an open question. They’re not adding any square footage to Las Aves proper, which should speed things up. They are, however, also in talks to purchase two other buildings on Los Patos. Fishbein was understandably reluctant to disclose which ones, but the word on the street is that one is the Montecito Athletic Club (40 Los Patos Way). The other is most likely the former Magic Castle Cabaret (30 Los Patos Way), which has been on and off the market. As you can see from the map, if the Magic Castle folks hold out, Runyon could instead be buying the apartment building behind it (34 Los Patos Way), which links Las Aves with the gym. The least likely contender is Stella Mare’s restaurant at 50 Los Patos, given that it’s farthest from Las Aves and historic (built in 1872 and moved from 812 De La Vina in 1962).
P.S. For those who haven’t been keeping up, that strip is already headed for transition: the city is working on the smell problem at the Andrée Clark Bird Refuge; the intersection with Cabrillo is being converted into a roundabout
early next year,* which will make turning left off of Los Patos infinitely easier; and the Los Patos freeway exit will eventually be closed, transforming the street into a cul-de-sac. [Update 10/20: The city is now saying that construction on the roundabout start sometime in 2023.]
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What? This is awful news. I’m honestly heartbroken. Here are the services I patronize regularly at Las Aves: dermatologist, cosmetic services, and dentist and chiropractor both of whom I’ve been going to for 25+ years (though Dr. Dinning’s practice was recently taken over by a new dentist Dr. Loul, the practice remains). And no offense Erik, but you must not know many long-time locals. I don’t know of any Santa Barbarans who don’t know what Las Aves is, and virtually every woman in Montecito knows where it is because Jeannette and Aesthetics Montecito is there as is the fabulous and increasingly in-demand dermatologist Erika Klemperer. I love every appointment I go to there and have always thought how lucky I was to live somewhere like Santa Barbara where something like a dental appointment can be such a dignified and beautiful experience.
I’ve met the guys who do Runyon before through my former line of work. I admire what they do and like them as people. They’re passionate. But please dear god WHY are we turning our GEM OF A TOWN(s) into LA? The grey-washed pirate ship barn look is so on the outs and already exhausted as the banal global Instagram-aesthetic look. There is already some wood cladding on some of the structure but PLEASE don’t make Santa Barbara look like anywheres-vile Hamptons-via-LA-via-Coastal Grandma. We have so much more magic going on here that what developers are throwing at us lately.
I feel truly, truly sad reading this. So disappointed in what’s happening here. If I can find a contact email for the guys at Runyon, I will shamelessly email them.
Hate to break it to you, but if you’re citing an increasingly in-demand dermatologist and a place that gives Botox as treasures of your town, you’re already “Hamptons-via-LA-via-Coastal Grandma”… maybe more so the latter
I cited those because I am shocked the author who seems to move in Montecito-centric circles doesn’t know anyone who frequents these businesses. There’s nothing to mock about a skilled dermatologist who is excellent at diagnosing skin cancer and rare skin disorders that other derms miss. The businesses are almost all local owner operators, from Adams Chiropractic to Dr. Klemperer. Perhaps Jim and Maria are ready to retire. I know them as real salt of the earth locals who are down to earth, as are the rest of the owner operators who are established in Las Aves. I’m sorry you don’t agree that it’s preferable to have local owner operator businesses versus chain boutiques and whatever LA-based hospitality group decides to open a restaurant there. The guys who are Runyon have taste and have their finger on the pulse, so hopefully they’ll make thoughtful decisions on populating the complex. I will personally miss visiting and patronizing the wonderful clinicians and owner operators who have made up Las Aves for the last few decades. It’s a great place offering many essential local services like dentistry and dermatology. For me that is something to treasure although you might find it laughable.
I love this place too. My doctor is here. It’s so nice to visit.
It is an unfortunate state of affairs the developers of LA have “discovered” Santa Barbara. This is sad, as the soul of SB is at stake. True, the retail situation in SB is almost pathetic. Sadly most of the great shopping of the past has evaporated, I Magnin, Saks, Blue Bee, among other wonderful non chain boutiques with unique and quality merchandise.
The issue with LA developers is they seem to think they know what our little city needs, but they don’t see it from a local’s point of view. They see it as what they think we need. I saw this is Malibu. The local’s don’t need The County Mart, they/ we ( I lived there ) needed a book store, coffee place, gym, workout studio, garden/hardware store, and other practical shops, not high end boutiques.
Where will the various offices currently located in this property relocate? I always enjoyed going there to a hair salon or for a doctor visit.
I was disappointed to see Runyon behind this as well. The platform is a decent development but not in the vein of what SB needs, or wants
I like Runyon and would have been excited if they were behind a new development, or a revamp of existing and poorly performing retail. But this is a well established and to my eyes thriving set of local owner operators, many of whom have been there for decades, and a complete transformation of something that was lovely how it is. I’m not a fan of that here.
“I don’t know of any Santa Barbarans who don’t know what Las Aves is”
Oh, Buffy… you’ll be late for your tea-time after your tennis lesson if you keep complaining like this to the plebeians… I’ll have Jeeves bring the Jag around… hurry, darling, please?
Sorry I don’t run in your wealthy and snooty circles, but hello from a lifetime Santa Barbaran who has never heard of Las Aves!
There are plenty of non-snooty businesses there. Like Adams Chiropractic. Siteline is geared toward an up-market readership so I geared my surprised comment that no one the author knows is familiar with Las Aves to the sort of person I assumed him to be referencing. Plenty of “normal” and non-snooty Santa Barbarans go to Las Aves. And I am honestly shocked you’ve never found reason to patronize it.
BW, Most “Santa Barbarans” I’ve met, wealthy or otherwise are not “snooty.” Just because people frequent local services and might enjoy a different life style (“normal?)”than yours, is no reason to disparage them. I appreciate your opinion but not your unkind judgement about folks you do not know. IMHO — More merchandise in that area doesn’t make great sense. A large percentage of Montecito residents are here part-time. Nice having places nearby to see dermatologist, hair-dresser, etc.
I don’t think you interpreted my comment correctly, Cheri. Christine Z accused me of being snooty. I did not make “unkind judgement about folks I do not know” – that was Christine Z who thinks supporting the local business owners of Las Aves is “snooty” because she is a “lifetime Santa Barbaran” who doesn’t know her town very well. She seems to be in the minority in not seeming to care about Las Aves. From the comments I see here, most locals are not pleased LA-based developers are taking over a well loved and seemingly very successful collection of locally owned and operated businesses and giving them the boot in favor of expensive non-local corporate retail.
Well said BW. I am in complete agreement…this is awful news and sadly Santa Barbara has been taken over by developers.
the original 1990’s intention of that dev. was mixed use with shops, cafes and services. over the first 3 years, locals didn’t adopt to the idea. services won over. great place for therapy… super quiet. maybe this time retail can be sustained long term.
Yes, there have been so many failed attempts at retail in town and this was one. I think a food destination will do well. Retail is tough here. There is appetite for it but it seems difficult to sustain many well-intentioned upmarket efforts. Recent shifts in who lives here and visits might make the difference. And free business advice for Runyon: consider a men’s clothing store since there is literally almost nowhere for men to shop in town. A captive audience could make that successful.
I fully agree with BW. I was shocked to learn of the plans for this property. When Las Aves was first built it was intended for restaurants and retail. In 1990 I moved my dental practice into what was the last retail business to remain there. It was called “Needleworks of Montecito”. Retail and restaurants simply did not survive there.
In my opinion, the properties’ evolution into a health and wellness center is quite perfect. The longevity of the locally owned businesses and practices that thrive there attests to that. Adams chiropractic was there before I was – as was Dr. James Kwako’s medical practice and Linda’s gym and Pilates studio. There have also been other chiropractors and medical doctors – acupuncture, massage, meditation, and beauty services for hair and skin. All are locally owned businesses and all have done well.
To replace this gem of a “wellness center” with corporate retail etc. is just a shame.
I feel Santa Barbara is becoming more like LA and losing its soul. This is a prime example.
“I feel Santa Barbara is becoming more like LA and losing its soul. This is a prime example.” I could not agree more, Dr. D.
I’m in favor of reimagining flailing or failed or undeveloped spaces, but this is just sad. This is the destruction of something thriving.
As a current business owner with an established business in The Las Aves plaza, I’d like to say in regards to this article a couple things. One, yes, there are people who haven’t been here or heard of it. At one time the whole place was financial services. New clients to the area are always so surprised we are there and think what a sweet place it is to come and receive health, wellness and beauty services. Two, the new owners and the previous owners have told us that it was intended to be kept as is. It is why she sold to them. Clearly that is not the case as the new owners haven’t even told us (and we’ve asked) this news to convert into retail and restaurants. And even with this article out they have not responded. I realize the growing demand for more high end shopping and food is prevalent and this space will probably be successful for them but it leaves almost 20 already thriving businesses looking for new “homes” in a town with high rent and limited options. We are not a struggling complex that needed to be saved. We are existing and grateful for this place some have called home for many many years. We are your neighbors and community members who love what we do and provide beneficial services of ALL kinds and we are all a perfect compliment to each other. A cafe here would be a great compliment to us as well. We don’t want to leave our sweet space. Could it be that we could work together? Maybe as some leave (retire or move) then a retail business could move in?
ET, you forgot to mention the transient/vagrant nests populating the margin of this idyllic property. The constant criminal issues with what we call “homeless”–they are actually non paying urban campers– prompted the decision to sell this property. And, the odor from the shallow bird refuge is not a small, treatable condition. Diurnal eutrophication happens in such conditions where warm, shallow water, filled with organic matter (bird guano) “turns over” producing algae blooms, whose natural product is hydrogen sulfide gas…what we call rotten egg smell. Good luck “solving that”….outdoor dining doesn’t work down there. Ask anyone who frequented Cafe del Sol, one of SB’s treasured eateries and bars that was down there for years. Their small patio was largely vacant.
This is devastating news. The long time tenants Of Las Aves were told that things would remain much the same with a few updates, but the opposite seems to be true. This Runyan Group think retail is going to work in this complex of WELL ESTABLISHED service based business that have a truly loyal clientele? They think people have never heard of this complex? Half of montecito come here for their hair, dentistry, Pilates, personal training, chiropractor, dermatology, and other cosmetic/medical services. Some of these businesses have been here 30 years or longer. This is a charming complex where the store owners and all their clientele have formed a tight knit community. Many business here share the clientele because It’s a one stop shop for any service you may need. Not only are they new owners kicking the long-time, well established businesses OUT, they plan to TRIPLE THE RENT, so the businesses couldn’t afford a new lease even if they wanted to stay…. Up to $10 per square foot on the lower level. That doesn’t include the additional maintenance costs these businesses pay quarterly for the upkeep of the beautiful courtyard. This Runyon Group is heartless, greedy and the LAST THING they care about is our community. They are out to dismantle the community that has been cultivated over the last 40 years and make it IMPOSSIBLE for small, local businesses to afford their rent prices. Don’t let this article fool you into believing that they care about our community. They certainly do not give two fluffs about our community. They’re out to tear family businesses apart, forcing long standing and beloved businesses to relocate in a very tough market, in the beginning of a recession. They are despicable. Retail is a dead fish floating belly up. Retail will not work. Good luck finding companies that will be willing to pay $10 a square foot, plus common area fees for a store front that will yield zero profit. For those current businesses who want to get a head start and find a new place before their lease is up….. the Runyon Group won’t even entertain working with the current proprietors to end their current lease early. So…. Small family business will be forced to pay double rent IF they can even find a new storefront they can afford. These people are ruthless, careless and greedy. I would even go as far to say that they are UNETHICAL. I am disgusted by this news. These people do not have anyone’s best interest in mind except their own bottom line. GROSS.
Are people aware that the new owners of the Las Aves complex plan to eliminate the charming Marge Dunlap fountain from the courtyard? Their plans show a fire pit where the fountain now stands. Salt on a wound.