SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH store in downtown Santa Barbara will not be closing this month when a lease was set to expire.
The building was recently purchased by the developer of the Hotel Californian, Michael Rosenfeld and Saks has been given another one year lease at the site on the corner of State and Carrillo Streets .
Had it closed, that would have added another 47,000 square feet to the inventory in a struggling section of downtown. Nearby the large Macy's department store is empty at the Paseo Nuevo Mall and recently the Tonic nightclub, one of the biggest in the entertainment zone, went dark not far from an associated restaurant, Blush.
There are about 27 vacancies on State street this week, according to the city and commercial realtors in the area.
The future of Saks is encouraging for those looking for fresh ideas in downtown. One plan is to use the second and third floors for living spaces and the first floor for retail. One estimate shows room for about 17 apartments.
That comes with an optimistic view about a concept to serve multiple purposes in the downtown including adding more regular foot traffic. The residents in many cases could also live in a car free environment.
In her first State of the City address Thursday, Mayor Cathy Murillo said revitalizing downtown, dealing with street homeless issues, making creative changes to the mall, and enforcing the no smoking ban, were all on her priority list for the coming year.