May 18, 2024
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Alma del Pueblo development earns top sustainability honors


Elijah Brumback

Elijah Brumback

While the building isn’t exactly shiny, the Alma del Pueblo mixed-use development in Santa Barbara recently earned some platinum hardware.

The 37-unit condo project at 18 W. Victoria St., through its design and construction, was awarded Platinum certification under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design or LEED for homes rating system — the highest rating possible in the program.

The project incorporates a number of key green-building practices that allowed the development and construction teams to rack up the 80-plus points needed to secure the Platinum rating.

Alma del Pueblo joins the ranks of other LEED Platinum buildings in Santa Barbara, including the Victoria Garden Mews home built by Allen Construction and UC Santa Barbara’s Bren Hall, recognized as one of the most efficient and sustainable buildings in the nation under LEED.

Urban Developments, the firm behind the Alma del Pueblo project, which also includes the Santa Barbara Public Market, pushed increased building density, drought tolerant landscapes and indoor water conservation measures, among other green standards, to achieve the rating.

Urban Developments, led by Principal Marge Cafarelli, worked with Santa Barbara architects Cearnal Andrulaitis on the project’s design.

According to the U.S. Green Building Council, only 6 percent of the total LEED-certified projects have attained a LEED Platinum certification.

Features that warrant a Platinum certification include a project’s classification as a high-density infill development, access to public transit in excess of 125 daily rides, proximity to parks and open space, 60 percent reduction in irrigation water demand, high-efficiency plumbing and Energy Star-rated residential appliances, among others.

When the project was close to completion, with the opening right around the corner, lawsuits rattled the unveiling. A roughly $1 million dispute between Cafarelli and the lead contractor, San Francisco-based Build Group, drew unwanted attention. However, that lawsuit was resolved last month, Cafarelli told the Business Times.

A number of other suits filed by subcontractors against Build Group have also been resolved.

SLO happenings
On Feb. 17 the San Luis Obispo City Council approved a 102-room hotel project adjacent to Pappy McGregor’s Irish Pub.

However, the 3-2 council vote also produced a few conditions for the project’s developers.

Due to heavy pressure from a community group known as San Luis Drive Area Advocates for Balanced Community Development, which was concerned about the hotel’s height, West Coast Management — the project’s owner — was harangued into making a number of concessions even though the hotel was still under the total height allowed by zoning.

According to the SLO Chamber, the neighborhood group worked to garner opposition to the hotel from other residential groups such as Monterey Heights and Alta Vista.

Prior to the Feb. 17 meeting, West Coast conceded all the balconies facing San Luis Creek and conducted additional studies to determine the impacts of noise and height on surrounding neighborhoods. In a last-minute round of conversations with neighborhood opponents, developers also agreed to increase the height of a parking wall facing the creek from five to six feet and add mature trees to the northern side of the Monday Club property, as well as the back of the hotel, to provide visual landscape screening.

Councilmembers Carlyn Christianson, Dan Rivoire and John Ashbaugh voted in favor of the proposed hotel, citing the project’s alignment with the recently updated SLO Land Use and Circulation Element.

Open spaces
A project called the Green Belt Protective Program, which aims to protect the headwaters of San Luis Creek, and an effort to secure the land proposed for the Cuesta Canyon Natural Reserve are moving forward. In January, the SLO City Council authorized up to $50,000 for appraisal services to move the project forward with the possible purchase of 1,875 acres of ranch land. The city hopes to complete that process in March and secure a deal later this summer.

The land — including nearly 1,300 acres of the Miossi Brothers La Cuesta Ranch stretching northeast to share a western and southern border with Cal Poly, and 575 acres of the Ahearn Family Ranch off Stagecoach Road in Cuesta Canyon — would become part of the Green Belt Protective Program. The combined reserve would provide 841 acres of publicly accessible open space.

Beer beat bubbles up

SLO Brewing Co. may soon open a larger facility near the airport. During a Feb. 2 meeting, the Architectural Review Commission approved the construction of a new brewery and tasting room at 855 Aero Vista Lane.