February 2, 2023
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Pacifica Hotels makes bet on future of East Beach property


Elijah Brumback

Elijah Brumback

The city of Santa Barbara’s Architectural Board of Review had its first look at designs for the latest hotel development proposed for downtown on Jan. 20.

The 100-plus room hotel is being proposed by Pacifica Hotels and its parent company Invest West Financial Corp. — the same firm that recently completed The Wayfarer hostel in the Funk Zone.

The proposal includes demolishing an existing 12,000-square-foot building to construct a  55,000-square-foot, 45-foot tall hotel at 926 Indio Muerto St., not far from the Fess Parker Double Tree Resort. Further details about the project describe a three-story hotel with 115 to 120 rooms and a 90-space, semi-subterranean parking lot. Pacifica Hotels is seeking Planning Commission review for a development plan, a coastal development permit and a transfer of existing development rights.

The review board continued the project discussion indefinitely until the full board can review the proposal. The initial review produced several comments and suggested revisions to massing, landscaping and height, according to a city planning department official.

“We’re cautiously optimistic about [the project] going forward and we hope the city is as excited about it as we are,” said Matt Marquis, president and chief operating officer of Invest West. “It’s going to be a boutique Santa Barbara-styled hotel that will fit right in to the area.”

Restaurant to open near airport

High Sierra Grill House, a Fresno-based BBQ restaurant concept, could touch down in Santa Barbara soon, pending lease approval from the city council.

The Santa Barbara Airport Commission recommended Jan. 21 that the city council approve a 10-year access license and lease agreement with three five-year options. High Sierra Grill House would lease the former Elephant Bar in Goleta, which closed  Aug. 18, 2013.

The monthly rent for the nearly 8,700-square-foot building at 521 Norman Firestone Road would be $12,694, according to Airport Commission documents.

The Elephant Bar operated for nearly 30 years in the location at Santa Barbara Airport before the company shut its doors for good in mid-August, with restaurant officials citing the surrounding area’s lack of economic growth as the cause of the closing.

The Costa Mesa-based parent company of Elephant Bar filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, closed 16 restaurants and is seeking a buyer for its business.

Jackson leads CEQA reboot

State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, has just introduced a bill to streamline and expedite the environmental review process under the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, California’s landmark law for evaluating and mitigating the environmental impacts of major development projects.

SB 122, which is jointly authored by Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, and Sen. Richard Roth, D-Riverside, seeks to create efficiencies in the environmental review process without undermining the law’s goal of informed environmental decision-making. It is the result of input gathered from a variety of stakeholders — business and environmental groups, local government agencies, lawyers, academics and others — over a number of months following a letter the Senate Judiciary and Environmental Quality committees sent to stakeholders in May.

“This bill is a modest and practical measure designed to help bring this process into the 21st Century, and make it more efficient and more accessible to the public,” Jackson in a news release. “It is not intended to upend or undermine the environmental goals of CEQA in any way.”

Ventura County’s healthy market

Ventura County’s overall vacancy rate of 6 percent is indicative of a healthy market, according to Daum Commerical Real Estate’s most recent market report. The report looks even better when the Camarillo properties vacated by Harbor Freight and Technicolor are removed from the data, dropping the vacancy to 4.6 percent.

According to the report, there are four trends that the statistics illustrate. First, the multi-tenant market has improved substantially over the past two years. Next, the number of available buildings for sale is at or close to five-year lows for six major Ventura County cities.

Additionally, Camarillo has struggled with several large buildings becoming vacant; its vacancy rate has increased by 1.3 percent  over the past year, to 8.5 percent, now the second highest in the county.

Finally, even with a good 2014, there are several segments of the market that continue to languish. Camarillo had zero leases completed for properties between 10,000 and 20,000 square feet during 2014, with several properties offered for lease in that size range.

• Contact Elijah Brumback at ebrumback@pacbiztimes.com.