When it comes to the issue of revitalizing Downtown Santa Barbara and bringing back some of its lost luster, momentum is building towards a solution and the World Business Academy is gratified to see that the public discussion we launched last year about this vital issue continues to move forward.
The World Business Academy started this important dialogue last spring when we convened a panel of local thought leaders and retail representatives to discuss current conditions in Downtown State Street and ways to bring in innovative solutions to improve the local economy. Moderated by Rinaldo Brutoco, we brought community and business leaders together to talk about making our Downtown area a more desirable destination for residents and tourists, boosting pedestrian traffic and revitalizing the local retail sector which is experiencing higher than average vacancy rates.
If you’d like to see where this issue currently stands, you can review the results of a city-commissioned economic study by Kosmont Companies, a nationally-recognized real estate and economics advisory firm, that was conducted with the goal of providing recommendations to improve State Street and Downtown.
The fact that this study was done is a step in the right direction.
The Kosmont study noted that Downtown is a key business center for the city and a popular destination for the arts and entertainment, but high retail vacancies, loss of retail business to the online shopping world, an ever-present homeless population, and the city’s complex business permitting process have hampered economic development and led to a loss of the once-vibrant neighborhood that tourists used to love.
The study also noted that business districts nationwide “are evolving into blended use areas with residential, office, hotel and entertainment … In some big box and department store spaces we are seeing theaters combined with food halls, or other entertainment uses such as video arcades, bowling centers and even co-working office spaces with food and beverage venues.”
The study reveals some interesting details about the city’s retail market conditions, age demographics, hotels, tourism, and other business forces, as well as comments from various stakeholders. If you can’t make it to the hearing this Thursday, please read the study and its findings.
We encourage you to stay informed and pay attention to what’s happening in YOUR city, on this extremely important issue.