Three new apartment buildings under construction



The agenda for Monday’s meeting of the city’s Architectural Board of Review includes three new apartment projects with a total of 152 units. While none are even close to being approved and changes are likely, they do offer some interesting insight into efforts to address Santa Barbara’s housing crisis.


The biggest project is 418 N. Milpas Street (between Haley and Gutierrez, with more frontage on Gutierrez): “a 101,204-square-foot, four-story, 90-unit mixed-use building, consisting of 34 studios, 44 one-bedroom units, and 12 two-bedroom units bedroom units and 6,118 square feet of commercial/retail space on the ground floor for commercial retail (1,557 square feet) and bed & breakfast hotel (4,561 square feet). […] The project will include 9 very modest dwellings (15% of 90 dwellings). […] The project will also include 6 moderate income units (10% of 60 units) meeting the city’s inclusion requirement. In total, there will be 15 units below market and 75 market units within the 90 total units. The project provides 52 parking spaces for residential units of 0.5 space per bedroom as permitted by the SDB parking incentive for 15% very low income units. Commercial/Retail Hotel and Bed and Breakfast requirements add an additional 14 spaces for a total of 69 spaces.

It’s called Milpas Gardens, probably a nursery homage to this location for years (decades?). The plans do not include a very good sense of architecture, which is Hochhauser Blatter Partners– but what we get is very Courtyard by Marriott. Of note are the five “bed and breakfast” hotel rooms along the eastern edge of the ground floor. (The floor plans below are for the first, second, third, and fourth floors, respectively.)


Much more impressive is 1922 Vina Street (Mission/Pedregosa), which proposes to: “keep the existing commercial buildings [site of Sheepskin Trading Post, Boom Boom Bike Room, Cat House Hotel, et al] and construct a new 45-foot-tall residential apartment structure consisting of three stories above the parking podium level (four stories in total), containing 26 residential units, 10 of which will be permitted under the provisions of the State Density Bonus . Three additional lofts are proposed in part of the existing commercial building overlooking the proposed paseo. The total number of residential units offered on the site totals 29. […] The residential units will include private outdoor terraces ranging from 40 to 100 square feet and a common outdoor space located at roof level. The parking structure includes twenty-one residential parking spaces and eleven commercial spaces, 11 surface parking spaces will remain; an outdoor public paseo space is proposed to complement the existing commercial uses. Access will be provided from existing Mission Street and De La Vina Street driveways.

Called Mission Paseo, the project is designed by Tacoma, Washington-based Bobby Walker Design.


Finally, there is 425 Garden Street (Haley/Gutierrez), which is not new but returns with an improved design. “The project consists of the demolition of all structures on site and the construction of a four-story residential complex of 33 units with common amenities on the roof. The project offers: two moderate income rental units, four very low income rental units and 30 rental units at market price. No parking is offered on site as per AUD ordinance.

What we can see from the design is better than the claim submitted to ABR in November 2021, when the project got a cold welcome. (This one is from Nova Scotia-based Sean Day.) Lack of parking is likely to be a concern, although it’s outside the purview of ABR.


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