Friday, July 20 , 2018, 6:34 pm | Fair 71º

 
 
 
 

Local News

Target Eyes Santa Barbara Land Owned By Airport

A proposed store on Hollister Avenue is subject to approval from Santa Barbara and Goleta officials, as well as the FAA

Santa Barbarans who drive to Ventura and Santa Maria to shop at the Target stores in those communities could have the chance to shop at a local store in the future.

Maybe.

Target Corp. is seeking to lease a 15-acre property at 6100 Hollister Ave., which is owned by the Santa Barbara Airport. Rumors of a store opening in Santa Barbara or Goleta surfaced as long ago as 2000, when discussions began about Target leasing the property, and have since been shot down twice by the Santa Barbara City Council during closed sessions.

New developments between the store and airport and city officials occurred last week, when a letter from Target real estate manager Dietrich Haar was sent to airport director Karen Ramsdell.

“Target Corp. remains very interested in locating a much-needed Target store in the Santa Barbara/Goleta communities,” states the letter, dated May 12. “The citizens have been asking for Target to locate in this area for years. We believe the proposed location and timing is right, and would appreciate your help and attention to this proposal.”

In another letter dated May 20, developer Andrew Bermant asked Santa Barbara Mayor Marty Blum and the council to consider Target’s proposal, stressing the benefits to the city, including the potential sales tax.

“Target estimates that $3 million is spent annually in the Target store in Ventura by shoppers with Santa Barbara ZIP codes. Another $1 million is spent by Santa Barbara shoppers with Target credit cards in the Santa Maria store,” stated the letter, which went on to say that these figures only account for purchases made with Target credit cards, and not other types of cards.

Bermant’s letter noted that sales tax revenues could rise to $1 million for the next 50 years. When asked about the proposal, Bermant said he could not comment. Ramsdell also had no comment.

Although the proposal deals with a property in Santa Barbara, neighboring Goleta would have to deal with significant effects of such a large store, including traffic, Goleta Mayor Roger Aceves said.

“Everybody wants a Target,” he said. “There’d be revenue, obviously, but the only revenue we would see would be monies to assist in mitigating some of the traffic.”

Aceves said he would prefer that the store be located in Goleta, but isn’t sure where it could go. The only space that could work is the Kmart property at 6865 Hollister Ave., but Aceves said that Kmart is one of the company’s best-performing stores in the region, and doubts it’ll be leaving anytime soon.

Aceves said he would like to see the Target proposal addressed in a public forum.

“This is a topic that everyone’s been talking about for years,” he said. “It needs to go before the public so it can be put to bed, one way or another.”

“I think South Coast would support a Target. Many people from Santa Barbara go to Target in other cities,” Blum told Noozhawk in an e-mail.

“The land-use decision will be made by working with the FAA. They will let us know if it is an appropriate location,” she said. “In addition, the intersection of Hollister and Fairview is very busy, which will be taken into consideration if this proposal goes into review.

“Although I am a fan of the store, the proposal is to put the store on airport land, so the proposal is subject to land-use decisions by the city, the city of Goleta and the FAA,” Blum said.

The property’s long history includes several prospective tenants that were unable to follow through with building at the site. Miravant, a medical device company, sought to build 160,000 square feet of office space there, but was unable to develop that location when one of its products didn’t get approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

A second proposal for the space came from Citrix, but the cost of the project was too high, and the deal was abandoned. Another interested party, Sares-Regis, which had proposed incubator-type office buildings, also failed.

Santa Barbara City Administrator Jim Armstrong said the city had heard about the proposal last week and was still processing it.

“It’s not just an issue of rezoning the property,” he said. “If that was the case, it would be in front of the public right away.”

A store in that location would involve a real estate transaction, so the council is allowed to discuss the item in closed session. Armstrong said he couldn’t comment on what the road forward would be because the proposal was just received last week.

The airport master plan’s long-term goal for that property was to place high-tech jobs there.

“The retail option was a different idea,” he said. “At this point, it’s an unsolicited offer.”

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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