ANALYSIS: State Street Gets Gifts in Still Uncertain Future

Holiday trimmings mark the parklet outside the Chase Lounge on State Street,

Christmas 2021 brings some apparently welcome gifts for Santa Barbara County’s most famous commercial corridor: State Street. 

Most recently it was announced that a “fun zone” would be coming soon to the bottom floor of the former Macy’s store at the corner of State and Ortega streets. It might be interesting to see if the out-of-town tenants of the upstairs 10,000-square-foot office space don’t mind the noise from the roller rink and arcade below them. 

It appears no Santa Barbara-area company might lease that space. So, commercial real estate brokers are hoping to lure a perhaps Los Angeles-area company to move in at some point. 

In a related note, the iconic Hotel Santa Barbara, at State and Cota streets, has been sold for almost $42 million. Such a deal. 

At a Dec. 14 city council meeting, the Santa Barbara economic czar gave a year-ending, cryptic report on what is being done downtown and what needs to be done. Another can appears to be being kicked down the road, or street in this instance. 

This all comes in the wake of new “independent” mayor taking office soon with six Democrats on the city council. The mayor has one vote, but the council has not been unified in years past. It will be very interesting to see what Mayor-elect Randy Rowse, a longtime local business owner and eight-year city council member, will do to aid Santa Barbara’s economic situation. 

While some new boutiques and other business have filled a few of the many vacant State Street venues, many small and large venues still have no announced tenants. However, Gap opened Athleta, 733 State St. It’s a women’s clothing shop just the across the street from Lululemon. 

Meanwhile, Paseo Nuevo mall still has a big white elephant or maybe a lump of coal: the vacant Nordstrom retail building, which has been talked about as being used for some type of housing. The outdoor mall also has a number of vacancies, but the holiday buzz is bringing in a growing number of patrons. 

And, the former Staples building on lower State Street and its across-the-parking-lot neighbor were once planned for housing conversion. However, the smaller building across the lot occupied now by the proprietor of Reid’s Appliances reportedly won’t be part of the housing plan as initially suggested. 

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