Proposed conceptual design for housing at the Tri-Country Produce site.
A rendering shows a proposed conceptual design for housing at the Tri-Country Produce site on Milpas Street in Santa Barbara. Credit: Cearnal Collective rendering

A mixed-use housing and market project is proposed for the site of Tri-County Produce on Santa Barbara’s Eastside.

The developers of the project slated for 335 S. Milpas St. are headed to the Santa Barbara Planning Commission for a concept review scheduled for June 15.

team of local investors purchased the property in 2022 for $9.75 million, according to Santa Barbara County property records.

Tri-County Produce, owned by John Dixon, is among the local investors, which includes general partners Austin Herlihy, Chris Parker and Steve Leonard.

According to the early plans, the project calls for demolition of the existing site to build 99 units, and for a smaller version of Tri-County Produce, about 6,000 square feet to remain, fronting Milpas Street.

“We’re excited to team up with a local business like Tri-County to try and solve their employee housing issues and the community’s housing crisis,” Herlihy said in a statement to Noozhawk.

The team is working with local employers to ensure that the project is targeted toward local workers.

“We’re local guys teaming up with locals to help solve one of our biggest local issues,” Parker said.

The site is a block from the beach and a prime spot for housing, at a time when the City of Santa Barbara is looking to meet state housing demands.

The project includes a parking garage with 122 parking spaces, an additional five uncovered surface parking spaces, and residential lobby, trash, utilities and bicycle parking, according to publicly available records.

Of the total number of units, 26 would be studios, 18 would be one-bedroom units and 55 would be two-bedroom units.

“Serving the area since the 1970s, the proposed project will ensure its continued
operation serving the community for years to come,” the applicants’ letter states.

Tri-County Produce sells fresh fruits and vegetables, juices, and other food and beverages. It’s known for its catchphrase, “If it’s any fresher, it’s still in the fields.”

The planning commission hearing is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m.