Thursday, November 15 , 2018, 6:59 am | Fair 43º


Relief and Frustration for Businesses as Lower State Street Reopens After Public Improvements

Construction of an adjacent hotel and the associated pedestrian improvements restricted vehicle and pedestrian access

Santa Barbara’s Lower State Street between Yanonali Street and Cabrillo Boulevard reopened Friday, providing some relief to businesses in the area.
Santa Barbara’s Lower State Street between Yanonali Street and Cabrillo Boulevard reopened Friday, providing some relief to businesses in the area. (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)

After eight months of restrictions on vehicle, pedestrian, and cyclist traffic, Lower State Street between Yanonali Street and Cabrillo Boulevard reopened Friday as construction on the La Entrada de Santa Barbara hotel continues.

Open now are the northbound lane and the east sidewalk. The southbound lane and west sidewalk have remained open since work began in November.

The 248,000-square-foot La Entrada de Santa Barbara development will be a 114-room hotel accompanied by 20,000 square feet of commercial space, plazas, paseos, and gardens. The project involved public improvement work on the adjacent roads and sidewalks.

The reopening is welcome news for Lower State businesses, who had to put up with the bustle of roadwork construction during normal working hours, limited parking, and what they said effectively became deterrents for passing customers and tourists.

“It’s so hard trying to get around when this is a one-way street,” said Cinthia Lopez of State Street Coffee at 29 State St.

“It’s been a real challenge for all the small shops down here, and we really look forward to getting it open so we can get back in business again, get things going again,” said Terry Duddridge, who, along with her family, owns Mountain Air Sports at 14 State St.

For independent stores, Duddridge said, the reduction in business has made for a very difficult hole to dig out of.

“Having that visual when you come down, and all the signs — ‘no this’, ‘no that’, ‘no left turn’, ‘no entry’,” she said. “Customers coming down here are like, ‘OK, what do we do?’”

Though Duddridge said she is excited for what the area will look like after all the surrounding construction projects are finished, the several concurrent development and capital improvement projects have been too much at one time.

MOXI, the Wolf Museum of Exploration and Innovation, has been developing its 125 State St. site since 2014, and the Cabrillo Bridge replacement project isn’t expected to finish up until next year.

Tom Ellington of J7 Surfboards at 24 E. Mason St. shared Duddridge’s frustration.

The city approving several construction projects in the area at the same time has really put the hurt on the area’s businesses, he said, and the lack of compensation from the city after for the downturns in business is a smack in the face.

Lower State Street’s opening in time for the Fourth of July demonstrates the city’s prioritizing the weekend’s festivities and parade over local businesses, Ellington said.

Construction at the intersection of Mason Street and Helena Avenue will continue through the rest of the year, the city said in a statement, but the surrounding businesses, such as J7, will continue to be open and accessible to the public.

According to the city, scaffolding on both sides of State Street will remain for pedestrian safety as La Entrada continues to go up.

The hotel is expected to complete its construction during the first quarter of 2017.

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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