It has been almost a decade since the property at 7000 Hollister Ave. in Goleta was purchased by Westar Associates, and there was an air of celebration as city officials and supporters met Wednesday to turn the dirt on the site that will host multifamily homes as well as commercial space.
The Westar project, known as "Hollister Village," will be the site of 266 residential units, stores and restaurants on the land north of Hollister Avenue between Glen Annie Road and Santa Felicia Drive.
The mixed-use project will include Hollister Village Plaza, a 76,000-square-foot neighborhood shopping center adjacent to the apartment community, which will potentially be home to a drugstore market, restaurants and other shops.
The project will have one-, two- and three-bedroom units on the 23½-acre parcel, with commercial space and parking lots closer to Hollister and the residential units deeper in the lot behind the commercial buildings.
The Goleta Design Review Board gave the mixed-use project final approval in July. The previous plans for the project had been approved by the City Council, but the developer slightly changed the project after a neighbor sued.
The lawsuit was settled and some commercial buildings were eliminated or replaced with residential units.
On Wednesday, Westar developer Peter Koetting said the property was purchased by the company in 2004, and since then, the development went through multiple iterations before coming to the mixed-use plan.
It took community input to get there, which made the project better, Koetting said.
He thanked the multiple city departments, including the city attorney's office, that helped make the project a reality.
"Everybody should share in this good feeling," he said.
The city has long strived to put more housing and commercial buildings at infill sites along the Hollister corridor, and the mixed-use design was lauded by city officials at the groundbreaking.
"This is exactly what we went through the general plan for," Goleta Mayor Roger Aceves said.
Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Kristen Miller and board chairman Tony Vallejo were also on hand to welcome the project to the area, saying it would provide much-needed housing for the area.
The move-in date for the project is expected in 2015.