Santa Barbara Eastside Girls Inc. Center Closes Its Doors Permanently

Organization Says Center Facilities Outdated, Repairs Too Costly

Credit: Emma Spencer

The Santa Barbara Eastside Girls Inc. building has closed its doors permanently due to its aging facility and financial constraints brought on by the pandemic. The gymnastics program will finish its summer camp season, however, as the nonprofit expands to other venues.

Credit: Emma Spencer

The decision to close the center and sell the property was made after the center closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Girls Inc. Board of Directors was forced to evaluate if the outdated facility was worth continued investment. Due to structural issues with the bathrooms, roofing, HVAC system, and electrical systems, the board determined the repairs were cost-prohibitive. “It was not in a condition that we felt like we could call it a safe environment to learn in,” said Jen Faust, CEO of Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara.

The gymnasium remains in operation to allow ongoing recreational and team gymnastics programs to conclude. The classroom portion of the building closed early in the pandemic, Faust said, and later in 2021 was converted into a remote learning center with on-site tutors, but enrichment classes never resumed.

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The Eastside Girls Inc. center was built in 1964, the first site of the Girls Inc. of Santa Barbara affiliate of the national organization. The second location in Goleta was built the following year, and later the two centers merged to form the Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara chapter, which now also includes a location in Lompoc. The Girls Inc. in Carpinteria is a different affiliation from the Greater Santa Barbara chapter.

Faust, who began in January 2022, said while the pandemic accelerated the decision to close and sell the Ortega Street location, it had been in discussion for years. After the Ortega Street center stopped its enrichment classes, the organization shifted to outreach and providing resources through programs like school partnerships. During this time, it piloted enrichment programs at Goleta Valley and Santa Barbara Junior High, as well as Dos Pueblos High School. 

The 1.46-acre property was listed with the Radius Commercial Real Estate group and ultimately purchased by Providence School.

Correction: This story has been corrected to state the gymnastics program will finish its summer sessions at the Ortega Street location, which has been sold to Providence. Girls Inc. of Santa Barbara will continue through programming at venues like schools and intends serve more girls with greater impact.

Listen to the latest episode of our podcast, The Indy: “Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara Is Here to Stay.”

Credit: Emma Spencer

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