Surge in recent sales and lease transactions expected to bring new energy to normally unchanging Montecito thoroughfares
Although the matter still has some working out to do, Caltrans’ widening of the 101 Freeway through Montecito and its potential impact on traffic in surrounding residential and commercial neighborhoods has rightly drawn the close attention of the entire community.
It’s worth noting that considerable change is already taking place in Montecito, and its potential to increase a different kind of traffic – foot traffic – has many, both business owners and residents, eagerly looking forward.
The past year has seen unprecedented commercial real estate activity both in Montecito’s upper village and along Coast Village Road, the lower village, in particular. The latter neighborhood, considered a more sleepy and much less ostentatious version of Beverly Hills’ Rodeo Drive, is not traditionally known to turn over property very often, and its quaint yet eclectic charm has rested largely on its myriad of longstanding, exceptional local businesses that share space on the pristine corridor, including restaurants, boutiques and galleries, offices, hotels, banks, and more.
The flurry of activity in the area may seem a little out of the ordinary for the relatively quiet Montecito community, and the high level of excitement and anticipation among local residents, commercial land owners and business tenants is palpable, according to Mike Chenoweth, a senior vice president with Radius Commercial Real Estate & Investments in Santa Barbara. “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,” he said.
The lower village’s Montecito Country Mart, next to the Vons Market, is progressing in its development plans. It was recently announced the Vons Pharmacy will relocate next to Starbucks in the area immediately south of the Country Mart, moving into the space that was occupied by Read N Post which, in turn, will relocate its store and post office to the new space in the Country Mart.
At 1085 Coast Village Rd., the owners of the Chevron station have received city approval to expand the station to include a mini-mart and carwash. Next door at 1101 Coast Village Rd., the former Hayward’s building sold to Santa Barbara investors. A prospective tenant is currently reviewing a lease, and others, including a restaurant, are showing interest in the space.
In the Mariposa Plaza at 1165 Coast Village Rd., a major national bank is reviewing a lease for a vacant frontage retail area which was previously occupied by Pitts & Bachmann.
Across the street, the recent sale of Peabody’s restaurant at the corner of Middle and Coast Village Roads will influence more change to the street. The property will undergo a major facelift with a covered patio.
Further down the street, the buyer of the former Turk Hesselund Nursery which sold just over a year ago has received the city’s final approval to develop the land into a multi-use building that will house retail, office and residential condominium tenants. Leases for two of the spaces are being negotiated with owners of a restaurant and soft goods store.
The upper village development of the Montecito Pharmacy property by Richard Gunner near San Ysidro and East Valley Roads is nearing completion. The concept of this new development of well designed, smaller freestanding buildings has received many positive comments about how well it fits into the ambiance of the area. In addition, a leading bank may be opening a branch in this development.
“All told, during the past 12 months we’re looking at roughly 60,000 sq. ft. of transaction volume totaling upwards of $20,000,000 in transaction dollars between the upper and lower villages, with more to come in the next 12-24 months,” said Chenoweth.
“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. It’s very exciting and encouraging from an economic standpoint and from a neighborhood community standpoint,” he added.
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