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Global advisory firm invests with SB mixed-use project

By   /   Friday, May 8th, 2015  /   Comments Off on Global advisory firm invests with SB mixed-use project

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SG, a Santa Barbara-based wealth adviser that lays claim to the largest insurance policy ever sold — $201 million to the unnamed CEO of a Silicon Valley public company — is investing its own capital at its current address.

The company, working through agent John Donaldson, wants to demolish its current office building at 800 Santa Barbara St. to make way for a new four-story mixed-used building that includes 26 apartments and 32 underground parking spaces.

Designed by Santa Barbara-based Hochhauser Blatter architects, the more than 26,000-square-foot building proposal recently went before the Historic Landmarks Commission for an initial concept review. Because the current 2,000-square-foot building sits in an area surrounded by historic adobe buildings, including the Presidio State Historic Park and Santa Barbara Historical Museum, Jan Hochhauser, the project’s architect, said the building’s design is sensitive to the city’s El Pueblo Viejo District.

“We’re working with everybody to thread the needle on this project,” Hochhauser said. “It’s an important downtown site.”

The project also includes 1,500 square feet of ground-floor commercial space. The residential breakdown proposes eight studio units, 14 one-bedroom units and four two-bedroom units.

Hochhauser said the design fits with the aesthetic of the neighborhood and is also aiming to take advantage of the city’s Average Unit Density program, which stipulates up to 63 dwelling units per acre. SG’s project has an average unit size of 788 square feet.

“We feel we’re not fully utilizing the zoning envelope and we’re not pushing any height restrictions;  most of the building is lower than the allowed height,” Hochhauser said. “We think this a good compatible project.”

With the city eager to add more housing, especially the affordable kind, the project’s smaller units would command a lower individual rent but still keep the development viable with the increased number of units allowed under the AUD, he said.

The off-the-charts demand for rental housing in Santa Barbara is well documented along with the increasingly steep pricing. If this project gets built, it would be a big win that could lead to further proliferation of denser housing projects around the city. So far, there have been just few proposed apartment projects taking advantage of the city’s AUD program.

With any new development, “the challenging thing is to make everyone happy,” Hochhauser said.
The project still needs an environmental assessment and planning commission review.

Toby Keith’s skips out on The Collection

In a follow-up to a Business Times report, it appears that the owners of Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar and Grill in Oxnard have pulled out of the retail development The Collection over $600,000 in unpaid rent. The restaurant closed its doors May 4.

On Dec. 27, 2012, Boomtown Entertainment — owner of the rights to the restaurant chain — started leasing the property from the developer of The Collection, Shea Properties. As of Oct. 17, 2014, Boomtown hadn’t paid Shea a dime in rent. Shea filed suit against Boomtown and both parties previously told the Business Times that negotiations to solve the issues were ongoing.

In an email, a representative from Boomtown told the Business Times the company had no intention of closing its Oxnard location.

Requests for comment from both Boomtown and Shea regarding the closing weren’t returned.
Toby Keith’s exit isn’t exactly a major loss for Shea, as several additional tenants to the development were recently announced, including The Gap, footwear company Finish Line and EMC Seafood, a Los Angeles-based seafood restaurant.

As for Boomtown, the company closed its Folsom location at the beginning of the year, saying it plans to evaluate and explore the marketplace for more strategic locations. The company also closed locations in Houston and Newport News, Virginia. However, expansion in Arizona, Michigan and Texas is still in the works. A location in Anaheim is expected to open in the coming months.

Contact Elijah Brumback at [email protected]

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