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Matchmaking begins with businesses and landlords on State Street

Hopeful small business owners and landlords in Santa Barbara filled a room at the main library to start making deals for short or long term leases.

It was a busy room full of conversations.

The business ideas ranged from retail, to dog training, to non-alcoholic dance spots.

The idea is to fill the vacant space as quickly as possible and also give some businesses a chance to test the waters with their ideas without putting a lifetime of money up front.

The city coordinated the meeting and called it the State Street Match.

It come at a time when the core of downtown has multiple vacancies and is facing an economic slump. (Later in the day NewsChannel 3 confirmed that Pinkberry was closed and being dismantled on State and De la Guerra and the Santa Barbara Brewing Company on State and Haley streets was changing hands with new owners renaming the restaurant that’s set for a fresh look in mid-October. The Brew Co. deal is pending final agreements.) Assistant to the City Manager, Nina Johnson says, “we are really happy to see the excitement and energy in the room to let people meet and greet and see what comes from there.” Timing could play into the hands of those who can only fund a limited operation for now. It will also give the landlord some new money when, otherwise the business would be empty.

“So let’s say construction plans are coming together but it hasn’t come together yet. In that six month period maybe there’s an opportunity for another business to go into that space in that short term,” said Johnson. Every table had a sheet of addresses and pictures showing sites that were ready. Janette Johnson, owns the former site of Joe’s Plating at 429 State Street. She was side by side with Commercial Realtor Dave Pintard. “Y ou can look at temporary and that is what I initially thought, but I am of course looking at long term for the building because it has been there since the early 1900’s.”

One idea there would be a coffee roaster. It has room for multiple uses as well.
Nearly every block has openings and opportunities. The city says the deals for pop-up operations could be one day, one week, one month or one year to qualify as a pop up.” A unique idea involved dog and puppy training and dog socialization events. The team interested in it said that would be a fun stop for shoppers on State. ” Yes it would. Puppies attract customers that’s for sure,” said Joan Mayer with The Inquisitive Canine.

This kind of effort has been coming together in recent weeks, with the city and other business groups assisting in the planning.

“We came to the meeting last Wednesday so we got the orientation and gathered some information and strategized among ourselves so we knew what we would do here,” said Sara Munro with Built to Behave dog training.

A dance business without alcohol was also on the mind of Monica Dabos with Yes Dance!

Her perfect locations would be one of two sites. ” “If they would give it to me it was Aaron Brothers ( now closed art supply store.) The floor is 5000 square feet. My goal dream is to have it where Tonic (nightclub) used to be. Tonic is 7000 square feet.”

She says the concept will work with “mocktails.” Normally for a night out Dabos says, “the option is bar A, bar B, bar C and 40 percent of the people in America don’t drink alcohol.”

Nearly everyone inside learned something about the options ahead. “W e are really happy to see the excitement and energy in the room to let people meet and greet,” said Johnson.

The city says there is a fast track turnaround plan and that involves hardly any changes to the vacant spot. “D on’t alter the building. That way you won’t need a building permit. That’s the shortest, fastest least expensive route,” said Johnson. “A lot paint furniture, some decorations and your business can be ready.”

Many of the major realtors or property owners were on hand including Radius, Jaeger, Pacifica (Kerry Mann), Ray Mahboob, Lee and Associates, and the La Cumbre Plaza.

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