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Local News

Sandman Inn in Santa Barbara Gets Ready for Teardown, New Development

City firefighters use the site for training before it's demolished to make way for development of 72 residential units, commercial office buildings proposed for State Street property

Santa Barbara City Fire crews tore holes in the roof of the Sandman Inn as part of a training exercise for new recruits. The inn is preparing for demolition and construction of a new condo development.
Santa Barbara City Fire crews tore holes in the roof of the Sandman Inn as part of a training exercise for new recruits. The inn is preparing for demolition and construction of a new condo development.      (Santa Barbara City Fire Department photo)

Santa Barbara city firefighters used the Sandman Inn for a training ground this month ahead of pending demolition, making way for a long-planned residential and commercial development. 

Passersby may have seen simulated smoke or crews cutting more than 40 holes in the roof of the hotel at 3714 State St., which closed in March after more than 50 years in operation.

Beverly Hills-based investment firm Kennedy Wilson, Inc., which has an office in Santa Barbara, just received its demolition permits from the city to mow down the 52,815-square-foot, 113-room hotel and restaurant/event center.

That’s why property owners let 10 city Fire Department recruits manhandle the structure, which will be replaced next year by 72 residential town homes and condos and three small office/retail buildings, according to John Shuck, who owns the Santa Barbara firm (Franciscan Developments) that’s partnering with Kennedy Wilson on the project.

The condos and townhouses — 32 two-bedroom units and 40 three-bedroom units of varying heights  — will be built behind the 5,110 square feet of office space at the front of the site, boarded up in recent weeks in preparation for the work.

“It’ll be the last things we construct,” Shuck said of commercial buildings. “We’re building from the back to the front.”

The Sandman Inn on State Street will soon be demolished to make way for a new residential and commercial project, but first, city firefighting recruits did some training at the site. Click to view larger
The Sandman Inn on State Street will soon be demolished to make way for a new residential and commercial project, but first, city firefighting recruits did some training at the site.  (Santa Barbara City Fire Department photo)

City planner Renee Brooke said that while the development did get an OK from officials back in 2010, a revised design awaits final approval from the Architectural Board of Review.

Five years ago, Santa Barbara City Council voted to deny two appeals of the project from neighborhood groups, making way for 73 condominiums, an office building and two commercial condos.

The average square footage for each condo was supposed to stay around 1,200 square feet, with 11 of the units reserved as affordable.

Revised plans were submitted in November 2012, gaining Santa Barbara Planning Commission approval in April 2014, Brooke said.

Kennedy Wilson and Shuck purchased the property earlier this year from Kellogg and Associates, a partnership between Santa Barbara-based companies Investec Real Estate and WestPac Development — groups that had been working more than a decade to see the project through.

The Sandman Inn has been closed since March and will soon be demolished and replaced by a residential and commercial development. Click to view larger
The Sandman Inn has been closed since March and will soon be demolished and replaced by a residential and commercial development.  (Santa Barbara City Fire Department photo)

The owner of WestPac had owned Sandman Inn since the 1970s, Shuck said.

Kennedy Wilson owns several commercial and residential developments across the country, including this year’s purchase of Santa Maria’s 208-unit apartment complex Montiavo at Bradley Square.

Shuck said final drawings outlining specific plans for material, paint and more would be presented to ABR in two months, with construction expected to begin in summer 2016.

Because the project already boasts design approval — approvals that were good through 2015 — Shuck said it couldn’t be denied in the future.

Demolition will begin in three to four weeks — finishing up by early December — which provides plenty of time for the Santa Barbara Police SWAT team to also practice drills in the vacant building this week.

“You’re definitely doing a community service,” Shuck said.

“They’re helping us take the buildings down. This has been a long time coming.”

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff 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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