Ty Warner, the real estate tycoon and creator of Beanie Babies, is donating the Barnsdall-Rio Grande Gas Station to the city of Goleta, a representative announced at a news conference today.
Originally part of the Sandpiper Golf Course property, the Spanish colonial-designed station includes a nearly 500-square-foot structure and access to a small parcel of surrounding land.
“On behalf of the city of Goleta, we thank Mr. Warner for his generous contribution of this iconic landmark,” said Goleta City Councilman Roger Aceves.
Warner and his team worked with Aceves and city planners since 2009 on ways to preserve the Barnsdall station. Ultimately, Warner decided to hand over the dilapidated structure, which he acquired when he bought the Sandpiper Golf Course in 2003.
Warner’s other holdings include the Montecito Country Club, Coral Casino Beach and Cabana Club, Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara, Four Seasons Hotel New York, Las Ventanas Resort Cabo San Lucas, San Ysidro Ranch and Rancho San Marcos.
The official property transfer is estimated to take place by the end of the year.
“This landmark is rich in history and lore. It serves as an important gateway to Goleta,” said Bill Medel, Ty Warner Hotels & Resorts project development manager. “We had a lot of discussion and concepts for the station, and Mr. Warner decided that the people of Goleta would ultimately be the best curators of the property. We look forward to witnessing the new life the city will bring to Barnsdall-Rio Grande Gas Station.“
Medel said Warner’s company isn’t expecting to contribute to the cost of renovating and preserving the structure, adding that whatever Goleta decides to do with the property is the city’s responsibility.
Goleta officials plan to conduct a thorough property assessment and work with local experts, historians and residents to determine the next steps for the site.
“We want to complete our due diligence before suggesting or committing to any future roles of the Barnsdall-Rio Grande Gas Station,” added Aceves. “Rest assured, it will be well honored and preserved.”
Built in 1929, the Barnsdall-Rio Grande Gas Station originally served as the entrance to the Barnsdall oil field that dominated the coastline at that time. The building’s design was conceived by former civic leader and conservationist Pearl Chase in an effort to improve the appearance of filling stations.
The station was abandoned by the 1950s, yet garnered more fame when used in the remake of the movie “The Postman Always Rings Twice” in 1980.
Santa Barbara County designated the station a historical site, but later it lost the official title after the city of Goleta incorporated. The city’s general plan currently lists the gas station as an historic resource.