I am inspired from a somewhat self-serving and inane entry a couple issues ago about some of the troubles of our beloved State Street. Strong leadership is to be commended and respected, and I offer this insight from one of Santa Barbara’s leaders from the past.
I met Jim Free (RIP) in the early 1980s, and we had become very close friends by the late 1980s. Not only had Jim been a successful businessman in our city, but in our recovery community he was a devoted and inspired role model who gave so much of his time and energy to help people in our community regain their lives. There are countless good citizens of S.B. who will never forget him.
In 1969, Jim co-founded with Jerry Beaver a successful commercial brokerage firm here. According to newsprint a few years ago, Jerry Beaver was quoted as saying, “Beaver-Free was a household name, and was very strong in the commercial brokerage division.” And so it was throughout the ’70s. By the 1980s Jim told me that he was losing heart in helping tenants and landowners, and he started to move away from the business he started, and then he retired from it completely.
Jim told me way back then the reason why he left a very solid, successful business. He said, “The rents are just too high. Too much greed.”
That was over 30 years ago.
I know that today complex problems are affecting State Street vacancies and other related issues. The true big picture is one that Santa Barbara can be so proud of: our history, our beauty, our civic events, our community awareness and service, our great philanthropy through the centuries, the sanctity of our architecture, and population stability and security.
There is everything right and good and loving for everyone to continue to work very hard to come together and bring about the hoped-for Renaissance of Downtown State Street.
Jim Free will be proud.