There seems to be nothing quite like a robust construction project to restore faith in the economy. Having spent the last 12 years finagling and finessing a plan that first went before the Santa Barbara County Planning Department, and more recently has been under the jurisdiction of the City of Goleta, the Sares-Regis Group commenced work on the Cabrillo Business Park Thursday morning, October 29, with an official groundbreaking ceremony. About 25 people showed up at the event, including all members of the Goleta City Council, some Planning Commission staff members, and a number of Chamber of Commerce officials.
Located at the intersection of Hollister Avenue and Los Carneros Road, the 92-acre development is being built upon the site occupied for many years by Delco, a giant in the lore of Goleta’s high-tech community. “This is the center of the city, and I think it is going to be absolutely spectacular,” said Sares-Regis Group president Russ Goodman, thanking the Goleta City Council and members of the community for their input into a project that he said was well thought out.
With earthmoving machines growling in the background and passenger jets roaring overhead as he spoke, Goodman pointed out where various elements of the project would be located, including office and laboratory space, on-site retail for workers to patronize, pedestrian and bike trails, and open space. “There is a significant amount of open space-unheard of for a business park,” he said, affirming that the project calls for 46 percent of the park to be open space, including two large wetland mitigation areas, a park, and a detention basin. The first phase of construction, Phase A, will cover 22 acres and include 175,000 square feet of office space in three buildings, a 72,000-square-foot self-storage facility, and two retail buildings amounting to 17,500 square feet.
Goodman said that although Sares-Regis currently has no tenants confirmed yet – a few potentials recently backed down due to economic concerns – he expects that when the economy improves, tenants will want to move in. Art Barrett, a spokesperson for the company, said that vacancy for top-grade office space stands at 3 percent in Goleta, which he said will make the development attractive to companies looking for office space. Earlier this month, the City of Goleta looked seriously at the option of purchasing 40,000 square feet of office space in the park to house a more permanent iteration of City Hall, but even after close scrutiny by planning staff, which supported the move, the council voted 4-1 to forgo the opportunity. Citing a reduction in rent from the current landlord and a number of looming finance questions, Mayor Roger Aceves said that it made little sense at that point to rush into a deal.
Due to its location in the flyway of the Santa Barbara Municipal Airport, Goodman said that the site cannot be developed very densely. He added that retail operations in the development plan are intended to reduce automobile use by park tenants who might otherwise drive off-site to buy lunch and other commodities. He also touted the site’s location along one of the city’s main bus lines and its proximity to Highway 101 as beneficial because it will keep traffic congestion low in the area. Perhaps most significant is that UCSB, which is expected to provide much of the brainpower to staff the park’s high-tech companies, is located conveniently within a stone’s throw.