Carrows to Condos

by Nick Welsh

Orange County developer Steven Gelson just completed acquisition of Carrillo Plaza — now home to Carrows and Spudnuts at De la Vina and Carrillo streets — which he hopes to demolish and replace with a four-story, mixed-use condo project. While Gelson’s plans are far from finalized, he said slightly more than one-third of the 55 condos he’s proposing would be affordable. A 30-year veteran of the Orange County development scene, Gelson is now focusing on properties facing severe environmental challenges. In the case of Carrillo Plaza, the Regional Water Quality Control Board has ordered a massive cleanup of subsoil contaminants — produced by a former dry-cleaning business — that threaten the city’s groundwater basin.

Gelson proposes digging out 23 feet of soil underneath the plaza — which amounts to 15,000 cubic yards of earth, or roughly 3,000 truckloads — and filling the giant hole with two levels of underground parking, which would service the 19,000 square feet of restaurants and shops proposed for the ground floor and the upstairs condos. Gelson noted that his plans with the water control board are one or two years away from final approval and that most of the leases for existing plaza tenants would expire in that time. City planners said there’s much to like about Gelson’s plans, but cautioned his project might be too dense and too tall for Santa Barbara standards.

To submit a comment on this article, email or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email

Be succinct, constructive, and relevant to the story. Leaving a comment means you agree to our Discussion Guidelines. We like civilized discourse. We don't like spam, lying, profanity, harassment or personal attacks.

comments powered by Disqus
event calendar sponsored by:

Goleta Target Store Confirmed

Set to open at Kmart location in 2019.

County Fire Chief Calls for More Fuel Breaks

Peterson wants to create a continuous front-country line from Montecito to Goleta.

Crime Rates Down, Youth Arrests Up in Santa Barbara County

A 'high percentage' of misdemeanor citations happen on school campuses.

Will Hollister Ranch Access Deal Hold Up Under Public Scrutiny?

State commissioners are taking a closer look at settlement over beach access to Santa Barbara County gated ...

Faced with a Gun, Sheriff’s Sergeant Holds His Fire

Sgt. Freddy Padilla reflects on potentially life-saving decisions during welfare call.