Rendering of "The Platform" project.
"The Platform" project, a large market and restaurant space proposed for Santa Barbara's Funk Zone at the corner of Garden and Yanonali streets, would include a pedestrian courtyard. Credit: Cearnal Collective rendering

A unique neighborhood-market retail space soon could be headed to Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone.

Called “The Platform,” the project by Culver City developers Yanonali Street Holdings proposes a collection of independent merchants and eateries at the corner of Garden and Yanonali streets, at 301 E. Yanonali St.

It would be a mix of one- and two-story buildings, with a pedestrian courtyard and deck areas, and second-floor restaurant space, inspired by the architectural style of prominent Southern California architect Irving Gil.

“We have the opportunity to think through a space that has no buildings on it,” owner Joseph Miller said, “and a place that holds a very interesting place in the city.”

The project received mostly favorable comments from the city’s Historic Landmarks Commission during a concept review last week and is next headed to the Santa Barbara Planning Commission.

The project is part of the Cabrillo Specific Plan, approved in 1983. It would include 190 parking spaces, mostly underground.

The Funk Zone has emerged as a popular destination for beer, wine and food during the past 20 years. What was largely once an industrial warehouse area is now a tourist spot, a place that appeals to millennials for its funky vibe and artistic look.

However, most of the properties have risen organically, without a city master plan. Warehouses have been converted into wineries and beer halls. The Platform project represents one of the first new developments, built from the ground up, with the intention of serving locals and tourists with contemporary architecture.

The project would be at the edge of the city’s El Pueblo Viejo District.

The property is currently being operated as an open yard and contractor supply and storage company.

“This really will become the anchor to the Funk Zone,” architect Brian Cearnal said. “It’s going to be better than a pile of rocks.”

Commissioner Keith Butler said he drives by the current stone yard three times a week. He said he likes the project, but the architecture is a little “severe.”

“I worked in the Silicon Valley for years and that could be San Jose,” Butler said. “That doesn’t say Santa Barbara to me.”

Still, he said the project is off to a “good start.”

Commissioner Cass Ensberg noted that the project would be in the Funk Zone and near downtown, so it comes with architectural challenges.

“How are we making this both funky and traditional at the same time?” Ensberg asked. “How are you bringing those two elements together?”

She said the entryway looks “bland” and uninviting and she would support more bold colors in the design.

The building, she said, should say “Santa Barbara,” but also be funky and build on the past.

“I think you are going in the right direction,” she said. “I just think you need to give it a bit more quirkiness, personality and attitude.”

Joshua Molina

Joshua Molina, Noozhawk Staff Writer

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at