There are quite a few changes going on in downtown I.V. right now. Starbucks is gone, and South Coast Deli is in. In addition, there are two new luxury housing complexes going up that may just change the vibe of the area.

Cat Neushul

At first it might seem like a mistake when you see I.V. and luxury apartments in the same sentence. I.V. is usually associated with slum landlords, trash, and blight. However, more and more you’ll find luxury complexes turning up in the area as landlords renovate older properties, because they have seen the value of such investments.

Isla Vista’s new downtown high-density projects have been approved as part of the County Redevelopment Agency’s push for high-end housing in I.V., and in accordance with the Isla Vista Master Plan. There has also been a push in the downtown area to renovate the parks, improve the look of Pardall Road, and generally beautify the area. These new developments are just the next step in this ongoing process.

If you drive around the loop in downtown I.V., along Embarcadero Del Mar and Embarcadero Del Norte, you’ll see the construction sites for the two building projects. One is being developed by the Icon Company and is located on the corner of Trigo Road and Embarcadero Del Norte. It is going to provide 21 apartments and second-floor retail and commercial space. The building is supposed to include a study room, gym, and landscaped rooftop deck area.

The second new building project is called The Loop, and it is located at the corner of Pardall Road and Embarcadero del Mar. Set to open in fall 2012, The Loop has an extremely attractive Web site that describes what each of the luxury apartments will look like and details the aspects that will make it an eco-savvy choice. The apartments will include water-efficient fixtures, photovoltaic cells on the rooftop to generate power, Energy-star appliances, and many other features with a nod to sustainability.

As a luxury apartment, each of the units comes with a big screen television and provides access to “screaming fast” wi-fi, an outdoor gymnasium, community fire pit, ping-pong, an online bill-pay service, etc. The developer, Mesa Lane Partners, is composed of a group of UCSB alumni and is aware of what might be attractive to college students.

When you take a look at the Web sites describing these new housing developments, you might be surprised at what the facades of the buildings will look like. The buildings are high-density structures with several floors and a look that will add a more urban and upscale feel to the area. As you click through the pictures posted on the developers’ Web sites, you get a sense of how the downtown area might appear in the future.

Even though many people will love the new additions in the area, there are those who don’t want to change downtown I.V. They like it like it is. While I, too, like the funky, different vibe you feel in the downtown area, it’s time to up the game. These new developments may be an impetus to encourage new businesses to come to the I.V. area. Indeed, locals have raised concerns regarding how these new complexes may influence rental rates for businesses located in the area.

Taken in the context of what I.V. is now, and what it could be, I think that well-thought-out developments that improve the appearance of the downtown area can only be a positive thing. Keep your eyes open, because things are changing in I.V all the time. In honor of the New Year, there’s a feeling of out with the old, and in with the new.


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