A private development company will begin construction of a building on the corner of El Embarcadero and Trigo Road this winter, the next step in the county’s plan to redevelop Isla Vista.
The mixed-use building at 6539 Trigo Rd. will signal the beginning of a wave of construction expected under the sweeping Isla Vista Master Plan. The plan was approved in 2007 as a means of bringing new businesses and housing opportunities to Isla Vista. Completed components of the plan include changes to the Pardall streetscape and El Colegio Road.
Neil Dipaola, president of Mesa Lane Partners, said his firm will construct a modern and environmentally friendly structure offering store space and housing. It will also clean up land around the area, which is contaminated from an old gas station that once occupied the lot.
Dipaola said the building will be a substantial local investment.
“It will really be a unique building that brings up the level of quality a significant notch in I.V.,” Dipaola, who graduated from UCSB in 2006, said. “The plan is to create a building to serve the community of Isla Vista.”
County Director of Planning Derek Johnson projects the Master Plan will attract outside developers and lead to a series of improvements within the community.
“Under the current system, it doesn’t make a lot of economic sense for developers to come in,” Johnson said. “The plan [incentivizes] development projects to provide housing and other safety improvements to bring about real change.”
According to Doreen Farr, these developments will help make Isla Vista a safer community.
“I know there is a lot of excitement amongst the community groups and student groups and [the change] makes Isla Vista desirable and a more fun place to live.”
Though the plan is designed to upgrade Isla Vista, it has also raised concerns among community members. Some businesses fear rent will increase, while others worry development may deprive Isla Vista of its local culture by encouraging urban architecture.
To accommodate local interests, the plan was designed with input from a local advisory body of residents and businesses called the Project Area Committee. PAC representative and Isla Vista Food Co-Op manager Melissa Cohen said she is concerned about the potential for increased rent but admitted the benefits as well.
“I.V. is notorious for buildings that are falling apart. Through the master plan we are benefiting a lot,” Cohen said.