The Bacara Resort’s first open house under its new ownership was almost rained out Wednesday, but after the morning storm drenched the South Coast, the skies then cleared to blue skies and bright sunshine.
The almost 80-acre resort at the end of Hollister Avenue in Goleta had often been at odds with its neighbors during the past decade. However, the new owners drew more than 1,800 guests to the open house, which featured wine tasting and tasty snacks.
Ohana Real Estate Investors, with its offices in the Bay area and Hawaii, and the Rockpoint Group, headquartered in Boston, acquired the 311-room resort in July from ADCO, a New York-based real estate and banking company, which developed and managed the Bacara.
The Bacara’s developer and original owner Alvin Dworman, a bi-coastal banker who most recently worked in San Francisco, sold the property after banging his head against mounting local opposition. However, now the new owners are making nice with the Bacara’s neighbors by not upsetting them with more development proposals.
Dworman’s staff was so sensitive about the Bacara’s image that they once hired former News-Press publisher and attorney Joe Cole to threaten to sue the Pacific Coast Business Times, whose real estate columnist wrote “good luck” to the owner in his attempts to build more structures on the property. Dworman was compared to other South Coast developers, such as Fess Parker, Bill Levy, and Rick Caruso, who all had trouble building on their ocean-front properties.
In an apparent peace gesture, Ohana removed the “Bacara Guests Only” signs, while calling the closest coastline recreation area Haskell’s Beach again. A plan to build time-share condos near the beach parking lot has been tabled.
New Bacara officials said they want to welcome locals back to the property, embrace local businesses, participate in the community, and create a positive relationship with Goleta City Hall.
Kathleen Cochran, the Bacara’s new general manager, said it’s time to forget past problems and create a family atmosphere.
Goleta Mayor Margaret Connell and Councilmember Roger Aceves and Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kristen Amyx were among the variety of local officials attending the open house, along with David Landecker, executive director of the Santa Barbara Environmental Defense Center, Santa Barbara Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President Luis Villegas, and County Supervisor Salud Carbajal.
The South Coast Biz Blog is a roundup of the latest business news in the Santa Barbara area and is written by Ray Estrada, who has covered business in the region for numerous publications over the past couple decades. See more at independent.com/biz and wordpress.com/southcoastbizblog.