The 121-room Hotel Californian is slated to open its three buildings this summer by Santa Barbara’s waterfront.  (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)
  • The 121-room Hotel Californian is slated to open its three buildings this summer by Santa Barbara’s waterfront.
  • A major selling point for the Hotel Californian, whose rates will start at $550, is its proximity to the ocean and Santa Barbara’s downtown, including the Funk Zone, the Amtrak station and MOXI, the Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation.
  • The 121-room Hotel Californian is slated to open its three buildings this summer by the waterfront.
  • Los Angeles-based real estate developer Michael Rosenfeld has headed up one of the largest developments in recent Santa Barbara history with Hotel Californian.
  • Hotel Californian managing director Carlos Lopes said the luxury hotel will have the largest rooms in the city and will feature two restaurants.
  • Santo Mezcal, a new restaurant by Los Agaves, will open next to Hotel Indigo on Lower State Street in April.

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One of the most rapidly evolving neighborhoods in Santa Barbara is the waterfront, particularly around the bottom of State Street.

The popular tourist and leisure area recently saw the opening of MOXI, the Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation, the Cabrillo Boulevard bridge is being replaced, the tenant landscape of the artsy Funk Zone is constantly in flux, and construction on the giant new Hotel Californian project closed down streets and sidewalks.

With the latter slated to finish this summer, the neighborhood’s major facelift will be mostly complete.

Hotel Californian to open this summer

Some 200 people turned out to MOXI Wednesday evening for the announcement that Hotel Californian will open this summer at 36 State St. on three neighboring parcels.

The 248,000-square-foot project is completely reconstructing and expanding the once-dilapidated 1920s-era hotel.

Work on the project, which has also been known as La Entrada de Santa Barbara, began in 2014 after the site was purchased by Los Angeles-based developer 35 State Street Hotel Partners, which is led by Next Century Associates managing partner Michael Rosenfeld.

“It’s been a fantastic journey, and a fantastic partnership with the City of Santa Barbara, with the residents of Santa Barbara, with the merchants and business owners of Santa Barbara,” Rosenfeld said Wednesday. “We’ve really been received with tremendous grace.”

The 121-room, Spanish Colonial-style hotel is maintaining the building’s original façade, and will feature a rooftop event deck and pool, paseos, gardens, plazas, fountains, a ballroom, meeting and event spaces, a fitness center, a fashion boutique and a “Moroccan-inspired” spa and salon.

Los Angeles-based real estate developer Michael Rosenfeld has headed up one of the largest developments in recent Santa Barbara history with Hotel Californian.
Los Angeles-based real estate developer Michael Rosenfeld has headed up one of the largest developments in recent Santa Barbara history with Hotel Californian. (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)

The building on the original Hotel Californian site will be four stories tall and host 62 rooms, a deck, the spa and the fitness center. Two three-story Mason Street buildings will contain 58 rooms, the lobby and the fashion boutique.

Another building across State Street will feature a deck, a plaza lawn and a 1,700-square-foot presidential suite.

Hotel managing director Carlos Lopes said a Mediterranean and American restaurant anchored by seafood will go into the Mason Street complex, along with a café in the second State Street site.

Lopes said the hotel will have the largest rooms in the city. The average room rate, which will vary seasonally, will be around $550.

Mayor Helene Schneider, who spoke at Wednesday’s event, said the entire project will generate around 180 full-time jobs.

Museum of Contemporary Art headed for the Funk Zone

Within a two-minute walk of the Hotel Californian project will be the new Funk Zone headquarters of the Museum of Contemporary Art.

The museum is currently holding the 22,000-square-foot site at 35 Anacapa St. as an asset, said museum executive director Miki Garcia.

The institution will “think through what the needs are in the community,” she said, and launch a capital campaign at a future date.

A family of academics and artists had held the property in a trust but “really wanted it to serve the community,” Garcia said. The family then approached the museum, which was already considering an expansion from its Paseo Nuevo shopping center location.

Tom Parker of the Hutton Parker Foundation was “instrumental” in getting a loan to develop the site, she added.

“We’re really excited about the future,” Garcia said. “I think the response from the community so far has been overwhelmingly positive” regarding the need for expanding contemporary art spaces in the city.

Her institution, she noted, is the only contemporary art museum between Los Angeles and the Bay area.

Santo Mezcal prepares to open

Opening in April at 119 State St. next to Hotel Indigo will be Santo Mezcal, a Mexican restaurant by Los Agaves proprietor Carlos Luna and his team.

Heading up the kitchen will be Executive Chef Ricardo Garcia, and covering the mezcal- and tequila-focused bar will be mixologist Sean Sepulveda.

Santo Mezcal, a new restaurant by Los Agaves, will open next to Hotel Indigo on Lower State Street in April.
Santo Mezcal, a new restaurant by Los Agaves, will open next to Hotel Indigo on Lower State Street in April.  (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)

Luna’s two Los Agaves restaurants in Santa Barbara are located at 600 N. Milpas St. and 2911 De La Vina St. Another is located in Goleta’s Camino Real Marketplace, and a fourth in Westlake Village.

As Santo Mezcal opens, work continues on Bluewater Grill, a restaurant slated to open later this year in the lighthouse building at 15 E. Cabrillo Blvd.

A block east, Berkshire Hathaway is looking for the next tenant for the former El Torito restaurant at 29 E. Cabrillo Blvd.

Noozhawk staff writer Sam Goldman can be reached at sgoldman@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.