The Enterprise Fish Co. building in Santa Barbara is being gutted to be turned into a yacht and helicopter/plane charter business.
Construction is underway and visible from State Street.
Santa Barbara company Silver Air plans to adaptively reuse the building at 225 State St. and transform it into a place where people can charter yachts, helicopters and airplanes.
The building also will be home to visitor-serving materials and information for people wanting to learn about chartering a yacht or plane.
For the past four decades, the building was home to a restaurant, until it closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Enterprise Fish building had been on the market for a year until Silver Air came along.
“The goal is to preserve the historic qualities of the building,” said Jeff Hornbuckle, an architect with the Cearnal Collective, the firm working on the project. “People know the building so well. We want to preserve the character.”
Silver Air is a Santa Barbara-based charter aviation and charter yacht company that was launched 12 years ago. It primarily focused on aircraft management, aircraft charter and aircraft sales. The company is shifting its market focus and service offerings. It first operated out of the Santa Barbara Airport, then out of several downtown locations, and then from an office on upper State Street.
The latest project went before the Historic Landmarks Commission in February and the Santa Barbara Planning Commission last summer.
In order for the company, which will be called Silver Air/Silver Water, to operate from the site, it needs to be considered visitor-serving or commercial recreational. The area is zoned “hotel and related commerce.” The Planning Commission made that determination at its July 9 meeting.
As it stands now, the 6,800-square-foot building’s brick walls are up, but the top is partially open and the inside is hollowed out. Crews removed the rooftop equipment, refrigeration units and other equipment in the rear patio. Plans call for restoration of the existing brick and mortar joints and arched storefronts along State Street, and a 7-foot-tall wrought iron fence along a portion of the building.
The windows along the parking lot are deteriorated and will be replaced. The Enterprise Fish smokestack — a feature that has been there since the site was home to a laundry facility, Enterprise Laundry, built in 1909 — will remain. The building was mostly rebuilt after the 1925 earthquake, and it existed as a commercial laundry until 1977, when it became a restaurant.
Urban historian Nicole Hernandez prepared a report for the site. Although the building is not a structure of merit, it is on the city’s list for consideration of the designation.
“The unique and expressive brick façade with its three, large rounded arch openings facing State Street has been an established and familiar feature of State Street since 1977, and the changes to the property have acquired historic significance in its own right,” Hernandez wrote in a January report.
At last summer’s Planning Commission meeting, Jason Middleton, co-founder of the company, said he was attempting to pivot into the marine space and do with marine service what the company does with aviation.
“When we start Silver Water, we really feel that it is important to be in an area that not only has a lot of visitors, but that’s also down by the water,” Middleton said. “I think it is going to be very important for us to have access to the waterfront and be more where our customers are actually going to be.”
— Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.