Direct Relief to Build New Facility Near Santa Barbara Airport

SANTA BARBARA, CA – July 31, 2014

The Santa Barbara City Council will consider a proposal to sell City land to Direct Relief, an international humanitarian aid organization. Direct Relief plans to build a new state-of-the-art facility with approximately 100,000 square feet of warehouse and 25,000 square feet of office space to replace its existing building which is too small for its needs. The land is located north of Hollister Avenue in the Santa Barbara Airport’s commercial industrial area.

Direct Relief, founded in Santa Barbara in 1948, is among the world’s largest nonprofit humanitarian aid organizations and is apolitical, secular in character, and privately funded. Over the past decade, Direct Relief has established the nation’s largest charitable medicines program which serves as a critical resource in local, state and national emergencies. As a result, Direct Relief enjoys the unique distinction of being the only nonprofit accredited and licensed to distribute prescription medications in all 50 states. In order to maintain its unique accreditation, meet heightened facility security requirements, and accommodate its current and projected activities, two years ago Direct Relief began searching for a new site, and that search resulted in discussions with the City Airport officials that began in 2013. Those discussions resulted in the proposal that the City Council will consider on August 5.

The property that Direct Relief proposes to purchase is located at 6100 Hollister Avenue, just north of the Airport Administration Building. The City has considered a number of private commercial development proposals for the property over the past 17 years, including two large single-tenant development concepts, an industrial condo ownership, a utility company maintenance-and-storage facility, a hotel, a corporate campus, and a large retail store. None of the projects came to fruition.

The land and existing buildings have been used for temporary short-term rental, generating rental income of approximately $300,000 annually to the Airport. The property is subject to certain Federal Aviation Administration regulations including a requirement the Airport receive fair market value for the use of its land and facilities.

Direct Relief has submitted a proposal to purchase the Airport property at fair market value to construct new offices and warehouse. The sale proceeds will help support Airport operations, according to Airport Director, Hazel Johns.

“The sale of Airport land will provide the Airport with the funds necessary to construct new commercial industrial buildings on the remaining land without any borrowing, thereby strengthening the Airport’s revenue base” stated Johns. The Direct Relief proposal also gives the City a right to reacquire the property at a 10% discount if Direct Relief ever decides to sell it.

Direct Relief President, Thomas Tighe expressed his appreciation for the City’s willingness to consider a property sale to his organization. “We are very grateful to the City for helping us find land that will help us continue our work into the future. City officials have been enthusiastic supporters of our humanitarian mission, and that support is one of the keys to our success.”

Contact: Hazel Johns, Airport Director
Phone: 805.896.1797

Contact: Thomas Tighe, Direct Relief, President
Phone: 805.964.4767

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