<b>GIVE AND TAKE:</b>  Alma del Pueblo’s designers originally wanted to build 60 units 
but had to settle for 37 after review by city planners and the Historic Landmarks Commission.

Paul Wellman

GIVE AND TAKE: Alma del Pueblo’s designers originally wanted to build 60 units but had to settle for 37 after review by city planners and the Historic Landmarks Commission.

When ‘Soul’ Collides With ‘Village’

Alma del Pueblo Developer Files Grievance Against Metropolitan Theatres Complex

Wednesday, September 4, 2013
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Marge Cafarelli, developer of the Alma del Pueblo (which translates to “Soul of the City”) condos now going up at the corner of Chapala and Victoria streets, has filed an appeal to nullify the preliminary approval granted two weeks ago allowing Metropolitan Theatres to proceed with the 33-unit apartment complex — dubbed the Arlington Village — it hopes to build right next to the Arlington Theatre.

Cafarelli complained the rental development violates city zoning and aesthetic guidelines when it comes to traffic, both vehicular and pedestrian, because all traffic would come in and out via an entrance on Chapala Street. When the Arlington Theatre books large shows requiring large equipment buses, she charged, the lot would be jammed, creating traffic havoc not just for the renters but for people moving into her condos as well. Likewise, Cafarelli objected the Arlington Village design failed to include adequate paseos for pedestrians, and she expressed concern that such foot traffic could clog the one existing paseo.

Marge Cafarelli, Alma del Pueblo developer
Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman (file)

Marge Cafarelli, Alma del Pueblo developer

Detlev Peikert, architect for Metro’s rental project, expressed surprise that the appeal was filed, but said he’s already developed plans to include an additional entryway into the village via Sola Street that he’s hopeful will address Cafarelli’s concerns. He noted that Metropolitan Theatres books only 10 major events a year in which buses would become an issue and that a traffic management plan had been crafted to maintain an acceptable flow of vehicles. Even so, Peikert acknowledged, city planners had concerns of their own about the traffic plan — finding it, he said, “less than ideal” — but deemed it acceptable nonetheless.

Though Cafarelli’s appeal of the Historic Landmarks Commission’s preliminary approval forced some changes, Peikert said of the new design, “At the end of the day, it’s better for us.” Peikert has drawn up plans to build a new three-story structure standing 40 feet high with 33 rental units and two commercial storefronts. Cafarelli is currently marketing her 37 condos — built where Safeway and later Vons used to operate — for $850,000 to $2.6 million apiece. Five of the units are reserved for middle-income earners, meaning couples who make less than $90,000 a year. In addition, she’s leasing out 15 high-ceilinged stall spaces to what she’s dubbed the Santa Barbara Public Market, where organic and artisanal goods will be sold.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

Kind of sounds like a mess. The traffic around that whole block of Victoria / Chapala/ State will get worse. I bet the Starbucks there is going to do gold mine of GREAT business. All the residents needing coffee!

girlslocker (anonymous profile)
September 4, 2013 at 8:23 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The market for luxury mondo condos must be strong. Just look at Chapala One and its high demand.

John_Adams (anonymous profile)
September 4, 2013 at 8:35 a.m. (Suggest removal)

There's actually a fairly new theory among demographers that the next wave of retirees will prefer to live in urban spaces like Alma del Pueblo, Chapala One, and Arlington Village. Early data is showing a shift from traditional suburban living to urban areas where amenities are closer and walking to services is feasible.

I can't find the podcast, but here's an example:

That these developments are beyond the reach of the majority of Americans may not matter since the market for retirees is typically not restricted to locals. The large proportion of cash sales to out-of-town retirees is evidence (according to an RE acquaintence).

As for Chapala One, it may have been a matter of poor timing on many fronts.

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
September 4, 2013 at 9:52 a.m. (Suggest removal)

can you get 2 mill for a condo hard up next to a 33 unit apartment building. i can't see that happening.

lawdy (anonymous profile)
September 4, 2013 at 10:11 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Shouldn't the city make an assessment AFTER Alma del Pueblo is occupied? Maybe see what happens with the traffic patterns at that point before adding more? Theory only goes so far. Seems premature to approve a second major project before the first is done.

SBthinksso (anonymous profile)
September 4, 2013 at 10:30 a.m. (Suggest removal)

At a minimum, the city should be doing what every private company would be doing in this phase of product development: Using CAD and attempted fault modes to predict every imaginable scenario and cross referencing all building codes, statutes, and criteria before issuing any permits for construction. Wishful thinking...

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
September 4, 2013 at 10:59 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Pack 'em in, rich and not so poor, that's what's going to happen in that block ---- and how can someone who calls her rich person's development the "soul of Santa Barbara" Keep moving, locals, nothing to see here, it's not for you.

Great picture, that sad little Arlington tower poking up. In Goleta they fight for mountain views along Hollister; in Santa Barbara and Chapala, they don't matter.

at_large (anonymous profile)
September 4, 2013 at 11:25 a.m. (Suggest removal)

This is from a developer who has sold 0 condos and will sell 0 condos at their current price and configuration. In case she hasnt figured it out yet, no one will spend $1m on a 750sq/ft condo in downtown SB. This isnt SF, this isnt NYC. This is a town with virtually no jobs downtown that pay enough for a single person to buy a $1m condo. Which leaves investors and or wealthy retirees. And they dont want to live in a shoe box either!

Appears to be a desperate move by an idiot developer who hasnt a clue as to what the market wants or will bear. I hope she loses her shirt on this idiotic example of social engineering.

You know who will buy these places? A few investors who will rent them out on AirBnB and turn the whole place into a vacation rental complex with a few low income (high crime, low quality) tenants hanging around in their section 8 apartments downstairs...

I do like the shops downstairs though. Those will do great. The condos however are so incredibly over priced its not even funny, its sad. No one who wants them can afford them and those who can afford them, dont want them...

iamsomeguyinsb (anonymous profile)
September 4, 2013 at 1:14 p.m. (Suggest removal)

People are willing to spend big bucks in Santa Barbara for houses with yards. Super expensive condos, unless they're on the beach or darn close, probably won't fly. Big cities like NYC and SF have a completely different socio-economic makeup than Santa Barbara does. People come here for the sun and the surf, not to live near Starbucks and Micky D's.

Lars (anonymous profile)
September 4, 2013 at 1:33 p.m. (Suggest removal)

While I am not sure that nobody will buy these overpriced units and it frankly makes zero sense, I am sure that there were other ways to create a viable economic model without adding insult to injury by calling this the soul of the city. How much faux cultural crap can we assimilate?

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
September 4, 2013 at 3:11 p.m. (Suggest removal)

At_large pretty much sums up how I feel. Also, "pueblo" refers to a village, not a city in the industrial sense. I'm not saying this to nitpick but the distinction needs to be made because clearly this is an upscale development not designed for the locals of the village, but for any high bidder willing to pay a price no working-class person can possibly afford.

Here's the deal: People still have this illusion that Santa Barbara is a progressive for-the-locals place run by people looking out after our best interests and quality of life, but in reality it's run for the benefit of the tourism industry and for rich out-of-towners. The "quality of life" shtick is clearly being revealed for what it is as the power-that-be pack in ten pounds of humanity into the proverbial five pound sack. "HIgh density" housing is the new "progressive" mantra, whereas responsible stewardship of the land and resources has gone out the window.

Some people get it, others don't, but just remember that when you're forced out by the high prices or get sick of the traffic, gangs, sanitized news reports, and theme park way of life, be a responsible steward and turn off the lights when you leave.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
September 4, 2013 at 6:10 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Only idiots would approve this development. Here you have a world-class historical structure (the Arlington), and you throw this turd right next to it. Tell me the planning commision and city council aren't corrupt.

Georgy (anonymous profile)
September 4, 2013 at 6:28 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I kind of like the idea of rental units - hopefully reasonably priced (at least by SB standards), clean, and convenient, hugging the overpriced, pretentious "Alma del Pueblo." Frankly, at this point, it aptly describes what has happened to this town. It has become a pretentious fake.

blackpoodles (anonymous profile)
September 4, 2013 at 11:13 p.m. (Suggest removal)

and you throw this turd right next to it. Tell me the planning commision and city council aren't corrupt.

Georgy (anonymous profile)
September 4, 2013 at 6:28 p.m.

And as we all can't polish a turd.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
September 5, 2013 at 12:29 a.m. (Suggest removal)

As wish you had told me that earlier today bc...

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
September 5, 2013 at 6:21 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Could they possibly jam more development into one city block? This whole mess could have been avoided if one of the smartest and best suggestions about what to put on this land were followed from the beginning: a world class convention center. The idea (I don't remember who tabled it) was to complement the beautiful and historic Arlington Theater with an adjacent convention facility to create a one-block square Arts Center, both for the enjoyment of locals and to attract business conventions and cultural events. I guess that made too much sense, so let's toss up yet another horrific "mixed use" condo/retail/office white elephant.

emptynewsroom (anonymous profile)
September 5, 2013 at 8:29 a.m. (Suggest removal)

whats the over/under on the life expectancy of a stall at the Santa Barbara Public Market Place.

2 years sound about right.

lawdy (anonymous profile)
September 5, 2013 at 8:55 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The project is surrounded by hundreds of low-inome city housing projects and senior low-income units. Look at a city housing authority map and count them up. Add in the private charitable residences for seniors only in this immediate area too.

If you don't bring in more high end units to this town to balance the large numbers of city subsidized and mandated low-income housing units already permanently in place, this town will continue to stagnate and die.

Social engineering by prior city councils put a noose around this towns fundamental economics turning over so much of the downtown area to those with no discretionary income to spend even though they are in "walkable" distances to downtown shops and restaurants.

Stop complaining about now finally adding condos for 'millionaires" because we need the infusion of cash and discretionary spending downtown more than ever.

City expenses are exploding and unfunded pension liabilities continue to mount thanks to promises made recklessly a number of years ago, and now a declining downtown economic base due to vagrant blight and the preponderance of fixed price housing dedicated solely to low-income residents.

Short-term feel-good political agendas are now handing their bills to the rest of the city to pay, and there is not enough money. You have to build for millionaires and you have to bring in more tourists, or you have to start drilling for more oil.

Local tax base is declining due to ill-thought out city goals while city expenses are increasing due to ill-thought out prior promises. Crunch time has come, like it or not.

Term limits let those who did this to our city off the hook. But the bills are still there now for us to pay. Keep pondering this until you finally get it. Talk to the city CFO, Robert Samario if you still don't fully understand what is happening and has happened to our city.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
September 8, 2013 at 10:54 a.m. (Suggest removal)

@EastBeach - That's interesting, and it does make sense. Looking at other places in CA and even Nevada, there is this trend to remake entire cities. Look at what they did in Oxnard recently with the new development. It's like a city within a city. People seem to really gravitate towards that kind of central urban living.

My only question is whether or not it would work in SB, since most of the people who could afford to live in this housing would be able to afford a lot of other choices, which is different than most of the other urban developments that are fast selling out in other areas.

I guess we wait and we see!

Native1 (anonymous profile)
September 10, 2013 at 7:37 a.m. (Suggest removal)

@Native - Can you tell me what development that is in Oxnard? I'm not familiar with it.

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
September 10, 2013 at 9:36 a.m. (Suggest removal)

It's just off the freeway at Wagon Wheel. I think it's called Riverpark. Or something similar. It's a multi-developer project in which several different types of houses all surround an urban village, with a whole foods, a park and daycare as well as the usual suspects of shops.

Native1 (anonymous profile)
September 10, 2013 at 3:13 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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