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

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.


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