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Business

Santa Barbara Plugs In to Tesla Motors Plan to Expand Site of Future Dealership

City Council grants request to allow expansion of Hitchcock Way operation through ‘community benefit’ code

The City of Santa Barbara has made way for a new Tesla Motors Inc. dealership to expand a soon-to-be proposed location on Hitchcock Way by deeming the project a “community benefit.”

The City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution finding the potential development at 400 Hitchcock Way a Community Benefit Project per city code, allocating 8,700 square feet of nonresidential floor area to the environmentally friendly car dealership in the process.

The request was granted as part of a pre-application review process.

Proposed remodel plans that the Palo Alto-based electric car maker and seller has for the three-acre site — currently Hughes Automobile Co. — required an amount of space conflicting with a Nonresidential Growth Management Program ordinance approved by the city in 2013, according to city planner Renee Brooke.

The ordinance limits total new nonresidential growth to 1.35 million square feet over 20 years, of which 600,000 square feet is reserved for Community Benefit Projects.

The three qualifying categories of such projects include community priority projects, economic development projects and development plan-new automobile sales projects.

Since Tesla falls into the latter, and because the site next to DCH Lexus of Santa Barbara has been an auto dealership since the 1960s, the council approved the designation.

What would happen to Hughes Automobiles Co. and whether the business could reopen somewhere else was not immediately known.

The site that could become the region’s first Tesla sales and service center includes an 8,377-square-foot showroom and approximately 17,433 square feet of storage and open bay structures, Brooke said.

She said Tesla plans to apply to remodel the existing auto dealership showroom by enclosing open service bays to secure its electric automobile repair center, creating 9,700 net square feet of new nonresidential floor area on the site.

Tesla would use the showroom for new automobile display and sales and operate an electric automobile repair and service center from the enclosed structures.

The dealership would also encompass 200 total parking spaces, Brooke said.

Tesla representatives have repeatedly refused to comment publicly on project plans.

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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