Economists are predicting that the South Coast should weather the coming recession with minimal pain. Kirk Lesh of UCSB’s Economic Forecast Project predicted an 11 percent drop in the median home price, but only a 3.5 percent drop for the South Coast. Speaking at the Lobero Theatre on 4/18, he noted that only 17 of the county home foreclosures last year occurred on the South Coast. Lesh also predicted a market turnaround in a year.

With one dissenting vote, the Santa Barbara City Planning Commission approved plans to replace Radio Squarehome of Spudnuts and Carrows, among other businesseswith a three-story mixed-use project. Supporters praised the addition of 32 new, pedestrian-friendly downtown condos. Detractors deem the project too big. Planning Commissioner Bendy White objected that only 5 of the 32 units would be affordable and that the condos would be prohibitively expensive.

In accordance with the city’s requirement that Fess Parker build a youth hostel as part of the terms of his development permit for expansion of the Doubletree Resort, Parker began excavation for a 100-bed complex at 12 E. Montecito Street on 4/23. According to Ed Galsterer, Parker’s marketing representative, preliminary work, such as clearing, began a few weeks ago. The hostel is expected to be completed by early 2009.

Architect Barry Berkus has been hired to design the new Children’s Museum slated for 125 State Street, near the train depot. Berkus is often hailed as an architectural visionary and criticized for his overblown designs, and the City Council rejected his plans to renovate an outer State Street motel in 2006, prompting him to vow not to work within city limits again. Apparently, the museum boardwhich touts the proposed museum as a “gateway project”changed his mind.

The comment period for UCSB’s Long Range Development Plan now runs until 6/23, with a hearing set for 6/4 at 7 p.m. at Isla Vista Theater. The proposed project would increase the number of students by 5,000 by 2025 and would add 336 faculty, 1,440 staff, and an additional 1.4 million square feet of building space.


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