Four new organizations have expressed interest in the empty space in the University Center, the spot that previously housed Kaplan until October 2018.
The University of California Police Department (UCPD) was the first and only organization to express interest in the space as of December 2018.
Now, Bagel Cafe, Mojo Teahouse, the Isla Vista Trading Post and Off-Campus Senator Sydney Karmes-Wainer have reached out to Gary Lawrence], University Center (UCen) director, to ask about the space.
“I would say that all of the inquiries have been informal and of the “information gathering” type,” Lawrence said in an email.
UCPD previously said that if they submitted a proposal for the space, they would be primarily interested in using it as a Community Service Organization (CSO) station.
“This space could enable the UC Police Department and its members to more effectively and routinely interact with the campus community in non-enforcement contacts,” UCPD Chief of Police Dustin Olson said in December.
One of the difficulties in filling the space is that it does not have a kitchen, but instead a classroom, which may rule out food-based businesses.
Mojo Teahouse owner Boxi Wang said that if Mojo Teahouse was selected for the space, they would only serve drinks. The location in Isla Vista serves drinks in addition to food items such as popcorn chicken.
“From my understanding, it’s a pretty cool thing to sell boba at school. I’ve been to some campuses, but I don’t think [any] of them sell boba on campus,” Wang said. “They all have coffee and other alternatives, like let’s say Jamba Juice, over there, but they don’t have anything that’s like more towards Asians.”
Plus, having a location on campus would allow Mojo Teahouse to pick up some morning sales that they miss out on by being in I.V., Wang added.
Bagel Cafe Manager Jacob Root said that he had reached out to ask about a space in the UCen in late December or early January, but was told that there weren’t any available spaces at the time.
“We’re looking to put a satellite-type location out there,” Root said.
“We would definitely need to make it semi-kitchen ready because we would want to bake bagels fresh over there,” he added.
Root hasn’t been able to check out the location yet, however, and said that he was waiting to hear back from Lawrence about the space.
“We’d have to look at the space, like I said, I just don’t know how many square feet it is, where the location is,” he said.
ISLA VISTA TRADING POST
Isla Vista Trading Post co-president Julia Rose Feldman said the organization has been looking for a permanent space for a while, especially since they are outgrowing their current storage space in another member’s garage.
“Right now we have just been working with our event-based model, which is great for what it is, but we’ve kind of outgrown the model,” Feldman, a fourth-year environmental studies major, said.
“At a few of our events we weren’t able to have the event for as long as we said we would because we just didn’t have anything to give out,” she added.
Having the permanent space would allow the I.V. Trading Post to keep more donations as well as create a space on campus where “where [students] know that the clothes [they donate] are going to be going to another loving home.”
“We are excited about the potential opportunity to have the space, but due to limited funding i’m not exactly sure if it’s going to be at all possible,” Feldman said.
“We haven’t heard back about how much it’s going to cost, and as a relatively new organization, we have about $2,000 to our org’s name, so we’re not sure whether or not it’s even feasible.”
Karmes-Wainer reached out to inquire about potentially putting a hot food bar in the space. She put out a petition calling for a hot food bar on campus in January and has since been working in Senate to try to make it a reality.
“We need a proper arrangement where students can build their own healthy meals, like a build-a-bowl hot bar with options for a clean protein, roasted vegetables, whole grains, & healthy fats,” Karmes-Wainer wrote in the original petition.
Karmes-Wainer declined to comment about the potential leasing of the space until she had more information.
The vacant UCen space is currently occupied by the UCSB’s Housing, Dining and Auxiliary Services (HDAE) after its main office was damaged by an early February storm.
Lawrence said HDAE would be in the vacant UCen space for approximately two to four months, but that he didn’t anticipate their occupancy having any effect on future rentals.
HDAE is currently paying the standard rate while it uses the space. Kaplan paid $4,420 per month to rent the space.