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Direct Relief Plans New Hollister Avenue Facility in Goleta

Nonprofit organization is looking to build a 128,000-square-foot warehouse as it grows and looks to maintain its medication distribution license

Direct Relief, one of the most prominent nonprofits in the country, has plans in the works to build an expansive new facility at 6100 Hollister Ave.

Already one of the 10 biggest charities in the U.S., the larger, new facility is a response to the nonprofit’s continued growth, Direct Relief’s director of communications, Tony Morain, told Noozhawk.

A new facility is also needed, he said, to continue adhering to the country’s stringent regulations for nonprofits that are licensed for the wholesale distribution of pharmaceutical medications.

In April, the city of Goleta purchased Direct Relief's former warehouse property, the $6.7-million property at 27 South La Patera Lane adjacent to the Amtrak station, as part of the city’s General Plan efforts to improve alternative-commuter transportation.

Direct Relief, which is based in Goleta and operates around the world, focuses on emergency preparation and response, maternal and child health, and disease treatment and prevention.

The new facility would consist of a nearly 128,000-square-foot warehouse — over two football fields in size — along with an attached two-story administrative office building, a truck yard loading area, and a proposed public road directly south of the facility.

Bus stops on both sides of Hollister Avenue would also be constructed.

Earlier in the year, the project received approvals for its development plan and environmental reviews from the city Planning Commission, and on Monday, received project design approval from the city’s Architectural Board of Review.

Receiving an overall warm reception from the board, which last reviewed the project in September, board member Howard Wittausch called the project “appropriate for the area” and “restrained and tasteful.”

The color palette was inspired by the nearby Goleta Slough, said Michael Holliday, whose design firm, DMHA Architecture + Interior Design, is leading the project

The eight-acre parcel at 6100 Wallace Becknell Road is on land owned by the Santa Barbara Airport, which is why it is being reviewed by Santa Barbara, rather than Goleta.

The new facility’s design has been in the works for 20 months, Direct Relief board member Mark Linehan told the ABR.

“The land has a lot of constraints to it — particularly physical constraints” related to archaeological and geological sensitivity, he said.

The relatively unostentatious design, he added, is primarily due to the organization wanting to get “the most bang for our buck” so as to not leave donors wondering what their money had been spent on.

Despite earning project design approval, the proposal will be back before the board with more detailed plans; the 20-feet-to-one-inch ratio designs that were presented, board chair Kirk Gradin said, were too small to show the finer architectural details that are normally scrutinized before project design approval.

Noozhawk staff writer Sam Goldman 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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