Whatever the outcome of November’s Santa Barbara mayor and council, local government will have its work cut out for it since some South Coast economic indicators may be looking rather dim at the moment.
Start the list: As expected, the Sak’s Off 5th retail outlet will be closing next year; Citrix is paring its downtown employees; and no real plan has been yet put up by candidates for how to really get some type of residential housing in the closed business spaces on State Street.
Residential already exists on State Street, but it’s more of the penthouse variety and would not be considered “workforce or affordable housing.”
Some signs of filling up some long-vacant spots have surfaced, but have not actually taken place. Deals have been known to fall through. The former Global Feet shoe store, 930 State St., empty for almost a decade, has a Tent Merchant Inc. Prop & Decor shop in it now.
And, some serious talks against having a 7-Eleven at the long-vacant, former Panera Bread restaurant at the corner of State and Ortega streets are being aired, most notably mayoral candidate Angel Martinez and Downtown Organization officials.
No substantive talks have been heard on what’s happening to the vacant, three-level Macy’s that closed this year, but that discussion will be as hot at the property across the street from it. Martinez said it would not be impossible to put housing on the building’s top floor. He noted that El Paso was the nation’s first shopping mall and it has residential above its shops.
Incidentally, at least three new Asian-style eateries have opened recently on lower State Street, including Sunny’s Korean restaurant in the old Zia Café spot, 532 State St., which has had half a dozen businesses in it during the past several years that left quickly; Craft Ramen opened in the former Bucatini location at Haley and State streets; and Lao Ma Tou, 511 State St., just opened in the former Barbarians pizza joint.