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Parking Pressures Could Tangle Target’s Plans for Santa Barbara Store

Company says it’s committed to making project fit community as issues surface over some aspects of Galleria space conversion

Construction fencing has been placed around the now-vacant Galleria at State Street and La Cumbre Road in Santa Barbara. Target has announced plans to open a “small-format” store at the site later this year, but limited parking is one challenge the company must overcome. Click to view larger
Construction fencing has been placed around the now-vacant Galleria at State Street and La Cumbre Road in Santa Barbara. Target has announced plans to open a “small-format” store at the site later this year, but limited parking is one challenge the company must overcome. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

Santa Barbara is in a frenzy over Target’s plan to open a “small-format” store on Upper State Street.

But ever since the news broke Wednesday, one question has been on everyone’s mind: Where are customers going to park?

The answer? Get there early because the parking lot is going to be packed.

In an interview with Noozhawk, City Planner Renee Brooke said there won’t be enough parking at certain times at the location in the now-closed Galleria building at 3891 State St.

“The site is constrained in parking capacity, parking lot layout, and access to the street with right in, right out-only turning movements,” she said.

“Parking demand for the small-format Target will, at peak times, exceed the capacity of the parking lot.”

One aisle of the parking lot does not allow for recirculation, Brooke said.

“The proposed site also has access issues because of left turn restrictions and the current traffic congestion at the intersection of State State and La Cumbre Road,” she added.

Brooke said Target has proposed lane modifications to the traffic signal at the State and La Cumbre intersection, and hopes to work with the city to allow left turns into the site from La Cumbre.

“Overall, motorists will experience significantly more traffic friction at the driveway locations as the building goes from largely dormant uses to constant vitality,” Brooke said.

The Galleria has 88 parking spaces permitted on-site and another 15 off-site, behind the Housing Authority of Santa Barbara’s Grace Village project, for a total of 103 parking spaces.

“We expect those off-site spaces to be used by Target employees,” Brooke said.

The Galleria location that Target hopes to convert to a “small-format” store currently has 88 parking spaces permitted on-site and another 15 nearby. Click to view larger
The Galleria location that Target hopes to convert to a “small-format” store currently has 88 parking spaces permitted on-site and another 15 nearby. (Target rendering)

She said Target plans to add two more parking spaces, but the city has not seen a formal proposal for how the company would accomplish that.

There are still many unanswered questions about the proposal.

“Target has not made an application to the Architectural Board of Review yet,” Brooke said, adding that that is likely in the next week or so.

Because the proposal is for retail to replace retail, a Target is permitted at the Galleria site. Not all retail is the same, however.

“We recognize that a Target store will likely generate more activity at this site than the previous tenants,” Brooke said.

Target, a Minneapolis-based discount store retailer, says any parking issues will be worked out.

“We have partnered with Santa Barbara city officials from the beginning, and will continue to do so as we bring this store to life for our guests,” said Erin Conroy, senior manager of public relations for Target.

“We’ve also worked with city officials to review parking to ensure we are meeting all necessary requirements. We will have much more to share about the Santa Barbara Galleria small-format store as we get closer to the October opening.”

Liam Murphy, a broker at Hayes Commercial Group, said parking is likely to be a problem in any space Target occupies, but that the company likely will make the necessary adjustments.

“I expect Target to embrace a new retail model where they can use technology to help people find what they want more quickly, and can then have items shipped to their homes instead of searching through stock rooms or aisles of goods,” he said.

“There will also likely be curbside pickup and other time-saving features that Target has deployed in other stores as well that will allow more customers to be served more quickly, and, hopefully, will keep traffic flowing.”

Murphy said he expects people to also use alternative forms of transportation.

“The prevalence of ride-sharing services like Lyft and Uber, as well as the property being immediately adjacent to a bus stop, will help mitigate some of the parking congestion,” he said.

“But ultimately shoppers will have to decide if they would rather shop in a Target with a tight parking lot or if they would rather drive to the Target in Ventura. I think most will choose the former.”

Murphy said he expects the city to support Target’s proposal.

“I think that the city will work to get the project done,” he said. “There is currently so much attention on the challenges of retailers that there is much more political will to accommodate new retail projects than there was a few years ago. I’d be very surprised if the project did not eventually get approval.”

A previous four-story high-density housing project proposed for the site has been scrapped.

The owners sold the building to Gryphon Capital, a Manhattan Beach private equity company that purchased the building and then entered a lease agreement with Target.

Plans for the store include:

» A grocery selection with a focus on wellness offerings, including fresh produce, grab-and-go items, snacks and meal solutions

» An adult beverage selection, including beer and wine

» A curated assortment of home décor and accessories

» A broad beauty assortment presented in a boutique-style setting

» Apparel and accessories for men, women and children, including offerings from new Target-exclusive brands A New Day and Goodfellow & Co.

» Portable technology products and entertainment accessories

» A selection of toys and sporting goods

» Services such as a CVS pharmacy and order pickup

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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