February 8, 2023
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High-end grocers consider leasing downtown Santa Barbara space


Several high-end specialty grocers are interested in a 3-acre lot in downtown Santa Barbara.

The space at 301 E. Yanonali St., where StoneYard Building Materials currently operates, is available for lease, Pamela Scott told the Business Times. Scott is an agent at the Santa Barbara-based commercial real estate company Lee & Associates.

The proposed project would feature a two-story, 38,189-square-foot market, 7,500 square feet of retail space and 150 parking spaces. The lease price is listed at $4.75 per square foot per month.

“They’re hoping to capture the southern portion of the community because right now there is no specialty market to serve Summerland, Montecito, the Riviera and downtown,” said Scott, adding that she couldn’t specify which high-end grocers are looking at the property. “Retailing is about location. This is located right at the freeway, at the edge of the Funk Zone and near the beach.”

The property has drawn interest outside of grocers but the city’s specific plan designates a grocery anchor, she said.

Santa Barbara real estate investors Jenny and Bill Wright own the space, along with several other parcels along Garden and Yanonali streets. Their son-in-law and daughter, Tony and Jeanne Bortolazzo, manage the property. The Wrights would maintain ownership of the land, build the property and lease it to a grocer, Scott said.

Brian Cearnal, an architect at Santa Barbara-based architecture firm Cearnal Andrulaitis who is designing the project, is proposing a Monterey Revival style. The project has a podium design, similar to the Target at The Collection in Oxnard.

In terms of the possible retailers, there is demand for smaller, specialty food shops, wine and convenience tenants that cater to daily shoppers such as dry cleaners and hair salons, Scott said.

The project is going through the city’s conceptual design review. It is estimated to be built by the end of 2018.

Many of the tri-county region’s grocers have struggled.

Washington-based grocery chain Haggens is closing three stores in the region, five businesses have left the Santa Barbara Public Market and the former Fresh Market on the corner of Milpas and

Montecito streets has been closed since March. Fresh Market missed the mark on their customers and it wasn’t conveniently located, Scott said.

“There are a lot of barriers to entry in Santa Barbara. If the high-end grocer doesn’t build it here, where else would they go?” she said.

Oxnard apartments sold

A 10-unit multifamily apartment building in downtown Oxnard was recently sold for $1.59 million.

Real estate investors Dharam and Vijay Pal purchased the building at 308 Palm Drive from the Oxnard-based Ardis Armstrong Family Trust. Nick Henry, a broker at the Santa Barbara-based commercial real estate company The Channel Group, represented both parties.

The courtyard-style apartment building was built in 1951. It has eight one-bedroom, one-bath units and two two-bedroom, two-bath apartments that total nearly 8,000 square feet on a 13,483-square-foot lot. They feature garage parking, onsite laundry and a shared patio.

Arroyo Grande project nixed

The San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission denied a proposed mixed-use development in Arroyo Grande because of parking and density concerns.

Nick Tompkins of the San Luis Obispo-based commercial real estate firm NKT Commercial proposed three commercial buildings totaling more than 15,600 square feet, four second-story, two-bedroom condos and 38 single-family detached homes. The development was slated for the corner of East Grand Avenue and South Courtland Street.

Low rates for developers

The California Housing Finance Agency announced a new federal initiative on Aug. 17 that will provide significantly lower interest rates aimed to preserve and increase affordable housing.

The U.S. Treasury and the Department of Housing and Urban Development will partner with Housing Finance Agencies to provide multifamily loans at fixed 2 percent to 2.75 percent interest rates for up to 40 years.

For-profit, nonprofit and public agencies can use this program to refinance affordable housing developments to preserve long-term affordability, complete minor rehabilitation and cash out equity.

The new Refinance Loan Program is estimated to preserve more than 700 units and increase the availability of affordable housing over the next year.

• Contact Alex Kacik at akacik@pacbiztimes.com.