Isla Vista celebrated the completion of eight months of construction on Pardall Road with an opening ceremony last Thursday.
The improvements consist of an expanded walkway for pedestrians, 70 newly-planted trees, the installation of 44 streetlights, a fixed drainage system and 250 parking places for bicycles. Thursday’s celebration included a DJ, local vendors and art projects celebrating Isla Vista.
Jeff Lindgren of the Santa Barbara County Redevelopment Agency said the opening festivities were designed to mark the end of the construction and create stronger ties among the community.
“This celebration is really a chance for students and community members to come together to celebrate,” Lindgren said.
Although the redevelopments along Pardall Road were aimed to benefit the community and local businesses, some business owners said they feel that the project – which was initially expected to take two months to complete, but instead lasted eight – has only hurt business.
“We were told a completely different story,” Fresh Start co-owner Inessa Sharov said. “We were told this project would only take two months. It’s beautiful, but they killed our business.”
I.V. Drip owner Tom Leu said that project officials misled business owners about the length of construction and effect on businesses.
“This project was based on a pile of lies,” Leu said. “Every time the fence is chained, we lose $100 a day.”
Lindgren cited unforeseen issues as the cause for the delays.
“We ran into unanticipated underground issues,” Lindgren said. “These things take time.”
Along with loss of business due to the fence, Leu said that his business has also suffered because of the placement of a tree where he used to provide patio seating.
Lindgren maintains that despite the disruptive construction, the Pardall project will ultimately benefit Isla Vista.
“I hope this project gives downtown Isla vista a stronger identity for businesses,” he said. “I hope this block will become a focal point.”