Tuesday, September 25 , 2018, 8:18 am | Fog/Mist 60º

 
 
 
 

Local News

Big 23-unit Apartment Project Proposed for Downtown Santa Barbara

Some neighbors concerned about loss of sunlight from the 4-story buidlings on 100 block of West De la Guerra Street

A four-story, mixed-use project with 23 apartments and 1,162 square feet of commercial space is proposed for the 100 block of West De la Guerra Street in downtown Santa Barbara. Click to view larger
A four-story, mixed-use project with 23 apartments and 1,162 square feet of commercial space is proposed for the 100 block of West De la Guerra Street in downtown Santa Barbara. (Contributed)

Downtown Santa Barbara might soon be home to a 4-story, mixed-use project with 23 apartments and 1,162 square feet of commercial space.

The proposal at 113, 115 and 117 W. De la Guerra St. calls for the demolition of the two existing buildings, one of which is the home of the popular Elsie’s dive bar.

The facade of the buildings at 113 and 115 W. De la Guerra will be preserved; known as the W.D. building, it was built in 1928.

Developer John DeWilde and architect Ed DeVicente recently made a presentation on the proposal to the city Planning Commission.

The residential portion of the project calls for 10 2-bedroom units and 13 1-bedroom units.

DeVicente at the meeting said he did not know how much the units would rent for, but that 2-bedroom apartments are the most marketable.

“This is a very under-utilized parcel,” DeVicente said. “It’s an exceptional living location downtown.”

The project will reach three- and four-stories, with a maximum height of 45 feet. Developers plan to build 25 parking spaces inside a garage. 

Members of the Planning Commission expressed general support for the project, saying it is a prime spot for downtown housing, and exactly the type of housing that the city’s average unit-sized density incentive program is supposed to bring.

Two existing buildings on the 100 block of West De la Guerra Street in downtown Santa Barbara would be demolished to make room for a  four-story, mixed-use project with 23 apartments and 1,162 square feet of commercial space. Click to view larger
Two existing buildings on the 100 block of West De la Guerra Street in downtown Santa Barbara would be demolished to make room for a four-story, mixed-use project with 23 apartments and 1,162 square feet of commercial space. (Contributed)

The city’s AUD program encourages developers to build rental housing by allowing them to pack rental units onto smaller pieces of land.

Prior to the program, which was approved in 2013, developers rarely built rental housing because they said such developments didn’t pencil out financially for them.

Even though the commission generally supported the idea of the project, they did raise design and height concerns.

“You need to take that fourth floor off,” said Commissioner Sheila Lodge. “It is too overwhelming. It needs to be smaller. Just because you can go to 63 units per acre doesn’t mean it is appropriate.”

Commissioner Addison Thompson agreed: “I think this is a good infill project for that particular piece of property.”

The project is located next to Paseo Chapala, a residential condominium development.

Two people spoke in opposition to the size of the project. They worry that the new development will block their sunlight and reduce their privacy.

“I am not opposed to a project done here, as long as it is done right,” said nearby resident Anna Sullivan. “This project has several flaws. The project should be reduced in size, bulk and scale. Neighbors would be looking at a four story wall.”

Commissioner Deborah Schwartz raised concerns about some aspects of the project’s size, but also urged neighbors and the community to accept the fact that downtown housing one of the city’s longer term goals and greater goods.

“We need to give ourselves a reality check,” Schwartz said. “We should assume something will be developing there given how we are seeing the city evolving.”

Schwartz said people need to be realistic and pragmatic.

“Properties like this, I think, are going to be prime targets for redevelopment,” Schwartz said. “I think we just have to settle into the idea and the need of bringing more housing downtown.

"We are either comfortable living closer to one another or we should make choices to live farther out in the community. Some of us have chosen to do that, some of us like the downtown lifestyle.”

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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