Money and Business

A new retail report shows some Santa Barbara areas still in a slump and others filling up

A shift in shopping comes with creative ideas

A new retail report goes beyond the downtown Santa Barbara retail slump and shows some positive signs. (John Palminteri/KEYT photo)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Despite some gloomy reports on the business picture in downtown Santa Barbara, there may be a shift soon both in that specific area and in nearby cities.

Certainly there have been concerns for months in the heart of the Santa Barbara shopping district where some business leaders are counting about 40 vacant sites.

The Hayes Commercial Group has put out a mid year report that shows just in the 600 to 1000 block foot print there are 17 vacancies.

Some new movement has also been taking place, including the relocation of the Hana Kitchen and two new Asian restaurants on State Street.  The Paseo Nuevo Mall is completely leased except for the recently closed Macy's that leaves 140,000 square feet open.  It's unclear what the replacement will be for that anchor site on Ortega and State Streets.

Nearby Payless Shoes is closing down this weekend.  A few addresses away, Just Play Music closed, but recently reopened up the street in a former hat store at State and De la Guerra.

Some analysts say incubator and high tech companies could be a part of the new look to the area.  A n ethnic market was also suggested to serve downtown residents.

The Hayes report carefully details a broader swath of businesses from Goleta to Carpinteria.  It shows some strength for example, in Carpinteria where the last two years leasing has surged.  It was driven by the expansion of Procore and LinkedIn.  Available space for leasing is currently very low, and the popularity of Carpinteria for business development appears to be very high..

Goleta has been seeing strong growth and there's room for more.  Some of the areas that may see change include the Old Town area and on the City of Santa Barbara airport property off Hollister

When it comes to filling vacancies where they are clustered in Santa Barbara the report says, "market forces should apply some corrective pressure in response to State Street’s unprecedented supply of retail space, most likely in the form of lower rents or lease concessions by landlords."

The rise of the Funk Zone activity with restaurants, wine and beer bars, has also been getting the watchful eye.  Some say it is drawing shoppers and diners away from downtown.

Nearby however, the new Hotel Californian is opening at State and Mason.  It will have new retail and restaurants in addition to overnight accommodations. A parking structure is also built into the project.

On Milpas street with the opening of a new and larger Trader Joe's at the corner of Montecito Street, the old site at Carpinteria Street store is available at about $10,000 square feet.

On upper State Street, the La Cumbre mall has about 35,000 square feet of available space according to the latest report.  It will see a new Islands restaurant opening soon, to fill the vacancy left by the Marmalade Cafe, on the western end of the property.


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