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Developer Ed St. George and his partners got the green light from the Santa Barbara City Council on Tuesday to proceed with plans to build a four-story mixed-use development on Milpas Street that exceeds the city’s 45-foot height limit in exchange for a binding commitment — lasting 90 years — that 16 of the building’s 82 rental units are priced to be affordable for middle-income earners.
Under the terms of the deal — technically known as development agreement — that St. George negotiated with City Administrator Paul Casey, the revised plans for the new development at 711 North Milpas Street, the current site of Capitol Hardware, will be allowed to be as high as 52 feet in certain spots and 48 feet in others. In addition, Casey and the City Council have approved St. George’s request to add six more rental units to the proposed development than the plans approved by the council last year.
That recent development history of the site has been fraught with intense controversy over its size, design, and neighborhood compatibility, not to mention financial-uncertainty delays. When the previous developer, Alan Bleecker, failed to secure funding to get the proposed development built, Bleecker brought in St. George as a partner to get the project over the goal line. St. George and Bleecker concluded that the project as approved could not garner the funding needed, so St. George led the charge to change the design and size of the project.