Approximately 30 community members gathered at Francisco Torres Residence Hall on Wednesday night to hear proposals for construction in Isla Vista, including a plan that would install six roundabouts on El Colegio Road.
Project Area Committee (PAC) and General Plan Advisory Committee (GPAC) members heard Isla Vista Master Plan presentations on the proposed renovation of an existing building located at 909 Embarcadero del Mar and plans to renovate and expand El Colegio Road.
The committee also heard a proposal from the UCSB Dramatic Arts department to improve the Isla Vista Theater through the addition of a “black box” theater at the rear of the property.
PAC/GPAC project manager Jamie Goldstein spoke in favor of the $6 million proposal to alter El Colegio, which would include installing six roundabouts along the road and widening the street to accommodate pedestrians, bicyclists and public transit vehicles.
Todd Roberson, the Associated Students PAC/GPAC representative, said the A.S. Commission on Disability Access has voiced concerns that people with physical disabilities will not be able to maneuver the roundabouts to cross the street.
Jamie Goldstein, the PAC/GPAC project manager, said he agreed with Robeson’s concerns, but he said he also wanted to mention the benefits of adding the roundabouts to the street. Goldstein said the roundabouts would help decrease automobile pollution from traffic in the area.
Committee member Tim Werner presented the proposed renovations to the existing property at 909 Embarcadero del Mar, located across from Silvergreens. The building currently houses a Sushi Teri, but Werner said the structure would be expanded to hold a retail store on the first level and a total of 23 studio apartments and one manager apartment on the second and third floors. He said the apartments would be 400 square feet each and would be designed to house one resident per apartment.
“We’d like to be the pilot project for the redevelopment,” Werner said. “We’re really trying to revitalize I.V. with commercial business.”
Werner said designers considered making the apartments slightly larger to accommodate two people, but she said they decided against it, in favor of more spacious, one-person apartments.
“That would offer a lower quality of life,” Werner said. “We want to provide the best housing options for UCSB students. We want the building to fit the students’ lifestyle.”
Richard Gilman, who is also working on the project, said the one-person apartments would ensure a calmer environment within the complex, and would make the apartments more suitable for young faculty members who want to live closer to campus.
“Studio apartments will discourage large gatherings and parties,” Werner said.
UCSB professor of Dramatic Arts Catherine Cole presented the last item on the meeting’s agenda, a proposal for the addition of a black box theater to be built behind I.V. Theater. A black box theater is a theater with black walls and minimal furnishings, which makes it easy to change the set for classes and small performances.
The theater, Cole said, is part of a larger plan to create an Isla Vista performing arts center.
Cole said the theater would have adjustable seating options and would be able to hold about 3,000 people. The estimated $18 million dollars needed for the entire center, Cole said, will come from private funding. She said construction will begin as soon as funding becomes available.
The center would provide students with an alternative to the party scene on Del Playa Drive, and would appeal to students looking for more cultural entertainment, Cole said.
“Students feel abandoned at night,” Cole said. “The goal is to blur the lines of cultural life and social life – to support living and learning together.”
Cole said the university has been supporting arts programs such as I.V. Live and Magic Lantern Films, and she said she thinks these programs are changing the weekend social climate in I.V. She said building a black box theater would continue to improve local artistic culture.
“20,000 people live within walking distance of the theater,” said Cole. “These are the conditions in which the arts thrive.”
PAC/GPAC member Craig Geyer said he is enthusiastic about the project proposal.
“This is a spark to ignite the downtown of I.V.,” Geyer said.
The committee unanimously voted in favor of supporting the I.V. “black box” theater proposal.