The 10 Major New Developments Set to Reshape Santa Barbara

If I’m having a hard time keeping track of all the big developments in the works around here, a lot of other people must be, too. So here’s a recap of the ten most significant projects, at least according to my memory; many smaller ones are also on the boards. A couple of caveats: these make take years to get built—or not even happen at all—and the renderings could be out of date.

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THE POST
L.A. developer Runyon, known for Platform in Culver City, is revamping the Las Aves complex (outlined in red) across from the Andrée Clark Bird Refuge into The Post, a retail center with many shops, two restaurants, and two smaller food-and-beverage outlets. The company also bought the Montecito Athletic Club and Stella Mare’s buildings (in blue); its plans for those remain unknown—and possibly up in the air till it either gets its hands on one or both of the other buildings (Magic Castle Cabaret and the apartments to the north) or gives up. More renderings can be found here and here.

 

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PLATFORM SANTA BARBARA
If you were wondering why Runyon isn’t calling the Las Aves project Platform, it’s undoubtedly because the company also plans to construct a new complex—called Platform—at the southeast corner of Garden Street and Highway 101 (currently home to Stoneyard Building Materials). Runyon’s David Fishbein said we can expect “unique independent boutiques and great local chef/restaurateurs. I’m not sure how many tenants we will have at this point but it will likely be similar to The Post given the projects are similar in overall size.” Cearnal Collective is the architect; more renderings here.

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THE GARDEN STREET HOTEL
The Cabrillo Plaza Specific Plan of 1983 included hospitality as a possible use for the lot at 101 Garden Street (at the southwest corner of Yanonali), but when the Wright family’s plan finally went before the city’s Planning Commission in early April, commission members complained about the lack of housing. “If an applicant can’t rely on a specific plan, then what the hell are we asking specific plans for?” said architect Brian Cearnal, whose Cearnal Collective designed the 250-room property (120 standard rooms and 130 extended-stay). As for what’s next, Noozhawk had this: “Rather than an outright denial, the commissioners voted 6-0 to ‘continue’ the project, to give the developers time to study employee housing, do outreach to the neighborhood, and work with existing tenants on the site. Cearnal indicated that any employee housing would have to go on a third story, which would increase the height of the building about 45 feet. The developers plan to return to the commission in about 60 days.” More renderings here.

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SOMOFUNK
Developer Neil Dipaola is spearheading the attempt to transform an entire block of the Funk Zone—bordered by Yanonali, Santa Barbara, Mason, and Gray streets—into SOMOfunk, a mixed-use development with 155 apartments and 18,000 square feet of commercial space. The city needs housing, and the Architectural Board of Review was generally in favor when it discussed the matter last July; the project next goes before the Planning Commission. There are more renderings on architect Cearnal Collective’s website.

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35 ANACAPA STREET
The third big mixed-use development in the Funk Zone is at 35 Anacapa Street, south of Mason. The description from when it went back in front of the city’s Architectural Board of Review in March: “The proposed building includes two 6-room small hotels (total of 12 hotel rooms, ±300 square feet each), hotel lobby/amenities/back-of-house, and other commercial services including: corner market/bodega, restaurant, and tasting rooms. A total of two residential manager’s units (±600 square feet each) will be provided for the two hotels.” The architect is DesignARC.

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SANTA BARBARA WATERFRONT HOTEL
Barring any delays from the city, construction is set to begin in the third quarter of this year on the Robert Green Company‘s 86-room resort at E. Cabrillo Boulevard and Calle Cesar Chavez (with back-of-the-house operations at a lot to the north), designed by local architect Robert C. Glazier. Of special note: the roof deck with pool and bar.

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410 STATE STREET
The only project on this list that’s actually under construction is the one at 410 State Street, which also fronts E. Gutierrez Street. In August 2020, the Santa Barbara News-Press described it thus: “This new development involves retaining and modifying the approximately 17,150-square-foot building at 410 State St. [Reality Church] and retaining the approximately 6,800 square-foot building at 409 Anacapa St. [Reid’s Appliances], a voluntary lot merger to combine the three parcels, and construction of a new 84-unit, four-story Priority Housing project over the east parking lot” on E. Gutierrez Street. The architect is Cearnal Collective.

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710 STATE STREET HOTEL
Further up State Street, SIMA is proposing to replace the building currently home to Restoration Hardware (710 State Street); the adjacent building directly behind the Santa Barbara News-Press building (19 E. Ortega Street); the Press Room bar at 15 E. Ortega; and a large parking lot with a 32,799-square-foot, four-story, 66-room hotel including two restaurants. (The buildings at 714-720 State Street are also part of the project but they won’t be demolished.) The design, by Kevin Moore Architect, includes varied facades that give the feel of a village street and a paseo running from State to Ortega. The project sailed through the Historic Landmarks Commission; the Planning Commission is up next. More images here.

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SANTA BARBARA POLICE DEPARTMENT
The Santa Barbara Police Department’s current headquarters on E. Figueroa Street is too small and falling apart, so a new one will be built at the corner of Santa Barbara Street and E. Cota Street. The architect is Cearnal Collective, natch. Here’s the description from its website (which also has more renderings): “The proposed Santa Barbara Police Station consists of a three-story, ±64,000 square-foot office building and a three-story ±84,000 square-foot secure parking structure to accommodate 237 parking spaces. Both structures will have a subterranean basement level below grade. The existing Santa Barbara City police operations, currently located at four separate sites, would be consolidated at the new project site.” P.S. The city hasn’t announced what will happen to the building at 215 E. Figueroa. And the Saturday farmers’ market will move to the intersection of State and Carrillo.

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THE NEIGHBORHOOD AT STATE AND HOPE
The local father-and-son team of Jim Taylor and Matthew Taylor at American Capital Management want to replace the 8.76 acres comprising the Macy’s building at La Cumbre Plaza and the parking lots around it with a mixed-use development called The Neighborhood at State and Hope. Cearnal Collective came up with the plan for 685 apartments (some of which would be affordable and some of which could end up being for seniors), underground parking, and commercial space, including retail. The architecture would be in four styles: traditional Mediterranean, modern Mediterranean, modern Moorish, and contemporary. (More renderings can be found here.) According to a Noozhawk update in March, the project “exceeds the 60-foot height limit set by Santa Barbara’s city charter and will need to undergo environmental review [….] The Taylors will take the comments made by the city and decide how to move forward before submitting a formal application.” P.S. The owners of the Sears parcel at La Cumbre are said to be working on plans for a big mixed-use development, too. (The mall proper has multiple owners and a ground lease, so it’s unlikely to change for a long time.)

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Comment:

44 Comments

Jefferson A.

No, for the same reason our elite “climate champions” are buying expensive ocean front real estate.

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Christine!

Answer of the day goes to JEFFERSON- reality is so rich! And so true! No one cares about climate bs!

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Janet Green

The Blue Zone was taken away by collaborating realtors and property owners who’s livelihoods were at stake instead of protecting future projects and providing awareness

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Jefferson A.

Janet, the Blue Zone was Climate Apocalypse propaganda. Developers wouldn’t be investing tens to hundreds of millions of dollars into coastal real estate they thought might actually be under water in 20-80 years. Our elite “Climate Champions” wouldn’t be buying ocean front mansions and continuing to fly their private jets if they thought this was a realistic outcome. It is possible both believe we need to minimize our impact on the planet and call B.S. to this type of climate alarmist propaganda based on models that claim they can accurately predict sea levels decades into the futre.

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Erik Torkells

Please stop commenting under various names; choose one and stick to it.

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Dianne White

It seems like mountain views will be a thing of the past in downtown SB. I feel a bit guilty prioritizing that over needed housing but I speak from my 220 square foot studio apartment (having chosen SB 23 years ago over high-rise coastal towns exactly for those views). I came for the nature. It makes our town special; 4 story buildings don’t. IMO.

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Zoe

Same here…agree! The low profile and views are a big part of what makes SB so special. We can disperse small complexes of housing throughout town without building all these high rises!!

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Jim Palmer

Why is one architectural firm designing so many of these projects? If one of the goals of the City’s Architectural Board of Review is to avoid homogenization in the ongoing redevelopment of Santa Barbara, its seems depending on one firm and predominant design aesthetic is an odd way to achieve that goal.

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BW

I agree. It’s bizarre. It’s like the city greenlights projects from Jeff Shelton and Cearnal and everything else gets stuck.

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Judy Nilsen

Agree with Lisa. Thank you easy to read and to understand.

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Dan O.

“these make take years to get built—or not even happen at all”. Every person I talk to in the Funk Zone are saying the same thing about the ghoulishly awful Somofunk project. It’s been shelved by the owner. Even having gone through many commission meetings. And it’s housing!

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BW

Oh, I do hope these rumors are true. I hate that one so much, minus the housing component.

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BN

I cannot believe how ugly that proposed development is—it’s frightening. I absolutely love that block as it is right now, and I pray it stays that way.

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Dave

Why aren’t all projects mixed use, with housing on the upper levels? Is max. building height being used as an excuse for not accommodating the needed housing?

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Steve Johnson

“The City needs housing”. Inaccurate. Correct statement: The City needs moderate income housing. Every one of the 10 projects described makes the current housing imbalance worse. The current draft Housing Element makes zero effort to promote market rate moderate income housing. Zero is also the number of market rate moderate income units built in the last 8 years.

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Victoria

Kudos for saying that, Steve.. You get it! but the term “workforce housing” is better, as it includes lower income renters as well. Some members of the essential workforce earn minimum wage.

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Janet Green

More Kudos to Steve, your point needs amplification. When the moderates don’t income qualify the city must import low incomes from outside the area. This will create way more problems than anticipated.

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Christine_Z28

Janet: “the city must import low incomes from outside the area.”

Would you clarify the “problems” you’re referring to? I’m hoping you mean commuters? Because people making low incomes aren’t problematic…

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Victoria

There is no need to “import low incomes” to Santa Barbara. We have the opposite problem: lack of housing for existing low income SB residents, many of whom work in the service industry related to tourism.

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nancy

Re: the Hope/State project: 1) Wouldn’t this demolish the last middle class department store in all of SB, Montecito & Goleta (Macy’s)? 2) Wouldn’t it also demolish most of the free retail parking in that area?

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scott palmer

Times are changing fast and SB will be Orange County soon enough. Money talks, and feelings don’t matter. None of the projects look innovative, or classic. They are cheap looking architectural pseudo spanish styles currently in vogue like cooker cutters houses of the past. Nothing special. That must be what they teach in Cali schools of design, or what the boss wants.

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Bobby

We are loosing our population in SB because of housing and high cost of living . I believe that these projects are way over due and we Santa Barbarian need to stay within other cities in California . The streets are like you live in the third word country, the buildings are old and falling apart within.
Now some people complain about not see the mountain or views of land scape etc , is selfish .

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Marivi

Lately all I see is more hotels being built and “some” affordable housing. Who do you think is going to be able to afford these units a few blocks from the ocean? Santa Barbara is no longer the quaint spanish style city I fell in love with years back. I see these massive block style buildings popping throughout the city. You’re kidding yourselves if this will solve the housing problem.

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Sam Tababa

Santa Barbara does not need more housing, it needs better jobs and a culture of fostering sustainable economic growth.

The problems that we have in SB are a direct result of the city’s choice to foster low value services and tourism jobs over industry or tech. So we have a large population of unskilled workers and low income students who will never earn enough to afford a home here and will never have a chance to build a better life, unless they leave. And leave they do. Leaving behind those who are unmotivated to build a better life and those with no choice or option.

The city sold its future for quick bucks years ago when they went full tourism. Instead of fostering young companies or even offering incentives to larger ones, they decided low wage, low skilled service jobs and short term transitory tax boosts were a better offering. So they spent all their time making it as difficult as possible to start or run a business here. They ignored the hundreds (thousands) of highly skilled graduates coming out of UCSB every quarter, and instead focused on min wage jobs and the monthly tax revenue from hotel rooms to fund their bloated payroll. We produce some of the greatest engineering minds in the world, and then they leave for greener pastures when they all want to be here. Live here. Thrive here…

SB has a long history of creating giant brands and companies. But during the last 10 years, that’s all gone in favor of corporate owned hotels, low wage service jobs and menial work. We have almost no non-public jobs here in town. The Government is the largest employee by a factor of 3x. We are in essence a socialized economy. Completely reliant on the Government (Federal jobs, State jobs, County jobs, City of ____ jobs, UCSB, SBCC, Vandenberg AFB) and the dozens of small private businesses that support these Government funded entities.

Without an underlying industry or the encouragement of entrepreneurship, we will continue to slide deeper and deeper into debt and farther and farther from a way out. Want to build a better city and community? Start fostering startups and businesses that are NOT services geared towards tourist. Make it easy and possible to build something here and you will find a way out of this situation.

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BW

I agree with you about the city’s decision to seemingly go all in on tourism. I am deeply concerned we are becoming a fully tourism based economy/place a la Porto or any other number of cities that have been hollowed out, and some would argue destroyed, by the phenomenon. I do, however, think we could do with some new thoughtfully implemented housing downtown. Retail is in dire straits and I think additional apartments downtown would help State Street remain vibrant. Our rental housing stock is also pretty dismal even for the people and professionals who can afford to live and work here. It is a major problem when trying to attract new talent to town even in high paying industries including tech and medicine. I have to laugh when people think we will ever make Santa Barbara affordable, and certainly not by building a few more apartments, but it would directly serve to make it more likely that young professionals will relocate here to fill essential roles or work for local companies.

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Kay

I’d wager that over 90% of all the new AUD ( average unit density) apartments that have been built over the past 5-7 years are all renting at or above market value. The city really dropped the ball in their quest for more housing at any cost, by not requiring a % of each development to be low income housing or even affordable housing. Now we have several hundred new units on the rental market but we are talking 750 sq. ft. 2 bed/1 bath for over$3,500 a month.

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Christine_Z28

Kay: “The city really dropped the ball in their quest for more housing at any cost, by not requiring a % of each development to be low income housing or even affordable housing.”

Agreed 100%.

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Jimbo

Need to bone up on your facts before posting. There is a 15% affordable requirement on all new development.

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Janet Green

100% agree. More Raytheon, more think tanks less drunk tanks

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Anne

I graduated from UCSB long ago (1976) and the job scene then was not much different. Tons of services jobs very few professional opportunities. 99% of my friends left town. I worked at a restaurant that was full of college grads (1129!) and left for Bay Area and east coast after waiting tables for a few years. We’ve moved back here and there are more opportunities but still feels like a town based on tourist industry and services for that group. Covid and the advent of remote work has changed things but probably just increased rent and housing prices as Bay Area and LA people relocated here in 2020-2022. My kids could possibly live here because they work remote not because of job opportunities.

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Michael Crenshaw

Appreciate the update on the city projects.

As someone who struggles with finding affordable housing in Santa Barbara, all I scan say is if you don’t think there’s a housing crisis, come down to the Rescue Mission and ask the workers how many people they have to turn AWAY everyday because it’s full.

Housing costs for someone rebuilding their lives or a college student working 2 jobs is simply too high. No one can afford to live on their own. When places do come open, it’s impossible for 90% of people to even move into a place due to 1st, 2nd and deposit requirements.

The homeless who happen to have jobs can’t save up enough money to move into these places because “priority” is taken to those with greater looking rental history.

Until all new housing is addressed towards low-income housing, we shouldn’t be building anymore hotels or storefront plazas.

How about another 1 or 2 Rescue Mission type buildings so we can finally take care of ALL the homeless at the same time not just when they happen to revolve into a homeless shelter when there’s an opening.

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Anne Barbera

Blame UCSB and SBCC for the limitless supply of students looking for housing and forcing out everyone else. Until that stops, things will never improve. Not saying shut down but just sensible limits. Start with closing the International Marketing and Visa departments.

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Nicolas

Does anybody have news of the progress on E. Gutierrez at State (Casablanca) ?

Thanks!

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John Ummel

The corner of E. Gutierrez at State will be a food court.

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Janet Green

SOMOFunk is SO MO FUGLY! Go home LA!!! Looks like the worst parts of DTLA and does not belong here!

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Santa Barbara Lady

Hello, Friends of Santa Barbara, first off I’m not against development.
My question is what attracts these developers here? Is it the possibilities for profitable investments? Yes
Is it the ambiance that Santa Barbara provides and attracted you here in the first place??
Is it the low scale, old Spanish style of architecture that 90% of the buildings here have? I dare to say YES because it presents an ambience that a lot of cities don’t have. When you submit your Lego Land style of buildings, What are you thinking? Hello, you’re trying to change the ambience that attracted you here in the first place. Save yourself time and money and try to conform. Everything does not need to be new and “improved”. I’m not going to quit on this thought. Regards, wake up

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