ANALYSIS: Much More Office Space Planned for State Street; What Happened to Housing?

More commercial office space is expected to come to State Street as the anticipation of indoor dining comes to restaurants as well. 

However, a plethora of vacant office space already exists as it was announced this week that the for Macy’s building at State and Otega streets will be converted into office space. 

Meanwhile, the former Enterprise Fish Co. on lower State Street reportedly also will be converted into offices after many years of serving up some of the best seafood and drinks in town. And, the two-story office building  formerly used by Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, 1020 State St., is being carved up into something called “Montecito Suites.” 

The Macy’s building, vacant since 2017, has plans for office spaces of up to 20,000 square feet, even though few local businesses are likely to lease such a large space. Brokers say they will have to seek tenants from Los Angeles or other areas. 

During the pandemic, many businesses have allowed their employees to work remotely. Is more office space really needed now? 

What happened to the notion of allowing workforce or affordable housing in the State Street corridor? Looks like that won’t happen for years, if at all.  The former Staples building, 410 State St., and an adjacent building was supposed to be converted into housing units. However, a church has rented some of the space for a year.

All of this comes after the Santa Barbara City Council formed yet another “master plan” for State Street with a 15-member oversight committee. More kicking the can down the road? 

State Street has an unprecedented vacancy rate, at least 13 percent to date. However, vacancies were high even before the pandemic. A man from Santa Monica was hired to revitalize State Street last year, but it’s not apparent what effect he has had on the key business corridor. 

On top of all this, the city’s traffic expert has painted lime-green lanes in the middle of State street in hopes of getting cyclists to ride within them and push pedestrians onto the sidewalks, where some cyclists already ride. Whatever happened to the so-called “promenade?” 

Posted March 16, 2021. 

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