Loft Living Downtown

Finding a Unicorn in Santa Barbara

Credit: Rafael Bautista

Address: 211 West Gutierrez Street, Unit 8

Status: On the Market

Price: $850,000

There’s a tall, beige condominium complex nestled at the corner of De la Vina and West Gutierrez streets. Even if you haven’t visited this particular downtown corner, I’m sure you’ve seen it as you’ve passed it on the freeway. Known as El Zoco Lofts, the enclave was imagined in the 1990s as a live-work space for artists, to help combat the high cost of living in Santa Barbara. 

I first discovered this building a few years back when I spent a day door-knocking for a local political candidate. Most knocks went unanswered, so the time consisted mostly of walking the area and leaving flyers, providing a personal view of a neighborhood that I hadn’t previously known. 

Credit: Rafael Bautista

My one-day political foray only showed me the exterior of El Zoco. Last week, when I walked in the front door of Unit 8 and saw the soaring interior space, my delight must have shown on my face. Eileen, the owner, greeted me with an enthusiastic, “I know! I discovered a unicorn!” 

Eileen shared her house-hunting story from years before. She had been looking for an airy, high-ceilinged space with great light in downtown Santa Barbara, but people in the know told her that no such thing existed. We’ve all seen spacious urban lofts in New York — at least in the movies — but California doesn’t offer many such options.

Until Eileen found her unicorn. 

The front door opens into the kitchen area, with an open living space beyond capped by a two-story wall of windows that opens onto a private patio. The ground floor could be configured any number of ways. As Eileen walks us through, she describes how it has served different needs over the years. There’s no denying that the light is ideal for an artist, but with more people working from home these days, the lure of more than 1,100 square feet of flexible living space is universally appealing.


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A staircase from the ground floor leads to the bedroom suite above, open to the action below in typical loft fashion. Surprisingly spacious, with generous closets, hardwood floors, and a full bathroom, the loft provides a cozy nest upstairs, while taking advantage of the home’s open, airy feeling.

Back downstairs, I took a better look around. The kitchen is compact but boasts deluxe features, including quartz counters, updates stainless steel appliances, a chef’s sink, and a nifty drop-leaf dining counter. 

Laundry hookups are concealed in a downstairs closet, and there are dual-pane windows throughout. In addition to bike parking, EV charging, and covered carports, the condo includes a large separate storage unit, addressing all the needs of suburbia in an enviable downtown location close to State Street, the beach, and the Funk Zone.

Someone else is sure to scoop up Eileen’s unicorn soon enough and discover the delights of living in a high-ceilinged, New York–style loft, right in the center of Santa Barbara.

211 West Gutierrez Street, Unit 8, is listed for sale in Santa Barbara by Joe Parker with the Santa Barbara Group of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties. Reach Joe at (805) 886-5735 or joe@thesantabarbaragroup.com. Visit sbcityloft.com for video and more photos.


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