Sandwiched between two theaters and flanked by Santa Barbara’s main drag of retail and restaurants, the high-end, mixed-use Alma del Pueblo project on Chapala Street is quickly taking shape. This week, owner/developer Marge Cafarelli announced that the project’s Santa Barbara Public Market — an airy, high-ceiling space to be filled with 15 independent merchants selling artisanal food and wine out of farmers’ market–type stalls — has picked 11 of those vendors who signed five-year leases with five-year options. (The current lineup is: Foragers Pantry, Belcampo Meat Co., Enjoy Cupcakes, Flagstone Pantry, Green Star Coffee, il Fustino oils and vinegars, JuiceWell, The Pasta Shoppe, Rori’s Artisanal Creamery, WINE + BEER, and The Kitchen.) The market is set to open in September, said Cafarelli, noting how the former site of a Vons grocery store — and before that a Safeway, dating back to the early 1930s — will also include a commercial kitchen for rent and a new restaurant, the name of which will be made public next week.
“The plan was to create a community gem,” said Cafarelli, who splits her time between San Francisco and Santa Barbara. “It’s really about lifestyle.” Cafarelli and her “boutique” development company, Urban Developments, purchased the half-block of land in August 2008, just a few months before the housing bubble exploded. “We knew the market wasn’t good, but we’re opportunistic buyers,” Cafarelli explained. She said Urban Developments was aggressive and beat out 10 other bidders to build Alma del Pueblo, designed by Cearnal Andrulaitis Architects and constructed by Build Group, Inc. Because of a confidentiality agreement with her lender, Cafarelli said she wasn’t able to disclose the project’s total price tag.
On the residential side of the Alma del Pueblo — which translates to Soul of the City — four of the complex’s 37 one- and two-bedroom condos have been sold. Ranging in price from $840,000 to $2.6 million, the units feature a host of sustainability-minded elements, Cafarelli said, all the trimmings of comfortable living and “vignette views” of the downtown corridor and the Santa Ynez Mountains. “Our residents get a tremendous amount of value for what they pay,” Cafarelli said.
Five of the units are reserved for middle-income earners, i.e., one person who makes less than $79,520 a year or two people who make less than $90,880. Buyers are expected to move in this October. In addition to two communal guest rooms, a rooftop clubroom and BBQ, and a private garden terrace, the residents have access to wine storage, electric-car charging stations, bike lockups, and 39 spaces of underground parking. (Parking for the market and restaurant is in a separate underground area.) Of how Alma del Pubelo, soon to be fitted with red-tile roofs, will conform to the rest of the cityscape, Cafarelli said its “aesthetics are not referential but contextual to the style of the area’s architecture.”