Sleepy little Montecito is stirring.
That’s the news from brokers at Radius Commercial Real Estate & Investments in Santa Barbara, who note that the recent widening of Highway 101 through the wealthy enclave isn’t the only reason for the influx in commercial activity.
Rather, a number of projects are spurring a domino effect of development and new foot traffic along Montecito’s famous retail corridor, Coast Village Road.
“Coast Village Road merchants in particular bank on foot traffic and the street’s appeal for both locals and tourists, and a fresh infusion of new commercial offerings can certainly translate to more customers frequenting the area,” Radius Vice President Mike Chenoweth said in an email statement.
Here’s a closer look at what’s moving and shaking in Montecito:
- There’s a retail shuffle around the Montecito Country Mart. The next-door Vons Market is moving along in its development plans, while the Vons Pharmacy is moving next to the Starbucks in the area just south of the Country Mart, in a space previously occupied by Read-N-Post. Read-N-Post is in turn shuffling over to new space in the Country Mart. (Confused yet?)
- Down the street, the owners of the Chevron station at 1085 Coast Village Road have secured approvals from the city to expand the station and include a mini-mart and car wash, an expansion that was met with some contention from Montecito residents who fervently want to preserve the wealthy village’s posh, hamlet-like feel.
- On the last undeveloped parcel fronting Coast Village Road, Los Angeles based developer Alberto Valner has received the city’s final approval to develop the land that was formerly the Turk Hesselund Nursery into a 15,923-squarefoot retail, restaurant and office project. Leases for two of the spaces are being negotiated with owners of a restaurant and soft goods store, Radius said. Valner told me late last year that the property was “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity to own a portion of coveted Coast Village Road. “I have looked at this property for years,” he told me in December, noting that Montecito is not a place for impatient developers looking to get in and out on a project. “We’re not going to come in and build this and sell it. We view it as an asset that we want to own for a long time.”
- At 1101 Coast Village Road, the former Hayward’s building that sold to Santa Barbara investors, a prospective tenant is currently reviewing a lease, Radius reports. A restaurant is also showing interest in the space, the brokerage firm said.
- In the Mariposa Plaza at 1165 Coast Village Road, a national bank is reviewing a lease for a vacant frontage retail area previously occupied by Pitts & Bachmann.
- Meanwhile, the upper village development of the Montecito Pharmacy property by Richard Gunner near San Ysidro and East Valley roads is nearing completion. The project will include a series of freestanding retail buildings. Another bank is considering a branch in that development, Radius said.
- The recent sale of the former Peabody’s restaurant at the corner of Middle and Coast Village roads will also kick off a major facelift, including the building of a covered patio, there.
Running the numbers, Chenoweth noted that about 60,000 square feet of space has changed hands in Montecito’s upper and lower villages during the last year, totaling about $20 million in transaction value.
“This kind of commercial activity is just not seen in Montecito given the small size of the market and how coveted space is in the area,” he said via email. “It’s very exciting and encouraging from an economic standpoint and from a neighborhood community standpoint.”
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