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Radius: The Big Yellow House

September 12, 2006
Santa Barbara, California – 09/12/06

Even after representing high profile transaction throughout Santa Barbara and in the Summerland community, Radius Group Commercial Real Estate agent Brad Frohling was impressed by the community’s concern for the fate of the Big Yellow House. The property has proven itself to be a cultural icon, with a rich history both behind the scenes and for a generation of residents whose memories and daily lives include this landmark.

“From the moment the Radius Group sign went up on The Big Yellow House, residents reacted,” said Frohling. “From the potential buyers, from residents near and far, from our own agents, the response ran the field of serious inquiries to private citizens looking for re-assurance or simply to share their memories.”

Frohling understood clearly the wishes of the owners to select the right buyer, to assure that the unique history would be honored, and the property well cared for and brought back to its former splendor.

As the Radius Group sign went up for all to see from Route 101, it was quickly apparent that the owners and the four adult daughters of the original family owners’ were not alone in caring about the fate of the Big Yellow House. Right on the heels of immediate calls from multiple interested parties to purchase the property, Frohling also received calls from private citizens concerned or curious about the future and some even suggesting a rainbow of possible “next” colors for the house.

Steve Brown, one of Radius Group’s four founding principals, believes that his team is well suited to represent community-sensitive types of commercial properties.

“Our staff is made up of long-time and native Santa Barbarans who understand the pride and personalization the community appreciates about its city and history,” said Brown. “This insight helps us balance the needs of our clients while doing all we can to balance the architectural integrity and character of our beautiful city.”

Brad Frohling of Radius Group Commercial Real Estate represented the sellers of The Big Yellow House at 108 Pierpont in Summerland, and Matt Benwitt, an independent broker represented the buyer, Laguna Properties LLC of Calabasas, CA. The family chose the buying party based upon their plans to perform an extensive remodel and re-open a fine-dining restaurant to be called the Yellow Rose.

“Selling the Big Yellow House was a long and difficult decision for us,” said Jeri Spencer, one of the four sisters who inherited the house in 2003 from the estate of John and June Young. “We knew it was a landmark, and we now believe that it will continue to be preserved as a landmark.”

“We are so pleased knowing that the new owner plans to restore and revitalize the property,” Spencer continued.

Summerland, with its vibrant hillside and beachside homes with the big bright restaurant represent the entry point into Montecito and Santa Barbara.

The historic structure was built as a private residence by Mr. H.L. Williams, the founder of Summerland, in the late 1800’s. The town initially attracted a unique population of spiritualists, and The Big Yellow House, like many original buildings in Summerland, is rumored to have ghosts.

The house was purchased in the early 1970’s by John and June Young. June Young had already demonstrated her gift for knowing what would attract attention (she was a founder of Santa Clause Lane), and promptly painted the beige Victorian house yellow with a bright orange roof. The house could not be missed; the community was up in arms. Nearly 35 years later, The Big Yellow House is indeed a landmark, a favorite sight, and holds magical family memories for Santa Barbarans young and old. For many years, children’s meals were priced “by the pound” – not the food, but by the weight of their youngest customers; children under 10 would be weighed on a great scale and their meal priced accordingly.

June Young died in 2003, her husband John Young in 1995. The Big Yellow House was truly a risky venture, but John Young was willing and able to wholeheartedly support June’s vision, and indeed The Big Yellow House started a commercial renaissance leading to the Summerland we know today. June Young left a legacy in memories for her family and for the entire community. Since that time, the building has been leased to various restaurant operators who, in appreciation of the landmark it had become, kept the name it was know by -The Big Yellow House. The heirs, June Young’s two daughters from her previous marriage, and John Young’s two daughters from his previous marriage, did finally decide to pass along the property into new hands. The start of more history in the making.

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