Thursday, November 15, 2007

Local contractor unveils his vision for transit center


Ten contractors and developers submitted their statement of qualifications to the City of Santa Barbara’s Department of Housing and Redevelopment yesterday, all with the hope of one day building a new and improved transit center in downtown Santa Barbara.
While most of those who entered their names into the pool of suitors did pretty much just that, David Lack, president and CEO of Lack Construction, submitted a full-blown proposal.

With detailed plans spread on tables in conference room, Lack enthusiastically spelled out his vision for the transit center, which he said could more accurately be called a “city center.”
“There is no real city center in Santa Barbara,” Lack said. “That’s what this is, it’s for the community.”
Lack’s proposal is lofty. It is a four story building with a suspended walkway over Chapala and Figueroa Streets, with 56,597 square feet of residential space and nearly 56,000 square feet of retail space, with 16 docks for buses and 400 parking spaces -- more than double what currently exists.
The building, and all of the spaces inside, will be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified at the gold level, Lack said, and people will want to do their shopping and other errands there, which he said will be in stark contrast to the current transit center, which he called “depressing.”
One of the ways Lack said he hopes to entice people to use the center would be through the use of a card -- similar to a debit card -- called a “smart card.”
The card, he said, would be scanned automatically as people parked their cars in the lot, which would eliminate receipts and lines, which Lack noted contribute to waste and pollution. The card would also be used to shop, buy food and ride the bus. The more you use the smart card at the transit center, Lack said, incentives build, which could include discounts on transit or food.
According to the plans, the increase in parking spaces will be made possible by a two-tier underground parking structure, which will include dozens of discounted and reserved spaces for hybrids.
The ground level will include the bus docks as well as several screens that will show where in the city one’s bus of choice is located. There would also be a police substation and eateries.
The second floor will be consumed by retail space, which could accommodate as many as 77 different stores. The third floor would consist of residential space, which as planned by Lack would include 39,704 square feet of two story units and 16,893 square feet of one story units. The 48 units range in diversity from 1,000 square feet to 3,000 square feet.
Lack said the fourth story would be an outdoor garden, which would help keep the building cool in the summer, warm in the winter and give patrons a nice area to relax.
Lack said much of his proposal is what the Santa Barbara City Council has asked for in past meetings. In September, the council heard a presentation by the Metropolitan Transit District and the city’s Redevelopment Agency, which said the best place for a transit center is right where the current transit center is.
The council agreed, and voted unanimously at that time to receive qualifications from developers.
Lack said he’s ready to go forward with his plan as soon as the city gives him the green light. He said he’s already investigated financing options.
Lack estimated the “core and shell” of the building, which is minus much of the amenities inside, to cost between $40 million and $50 million.
A feasibility report from the redevelopment agency said in September that a multi-use transit center could require public subsidies that range from $18.7 million to $28.4 million.
But while the city and MTD are the sole owners of the land and building that is currently the transit center, Lack said if his proposal is chosen, he would like to be an owner at some level.
“At the very least I want to be the master lease holder,” Lack said.
But when asked if he would consider simply building the facility for the city without a stake in ownership, Lack said he would.
Renee Brooke, a redevelopment specialist for the city, stressed the fact that the idea for a new transit center is in its infancy and a best-case scenario would see ground broken in the next three to four years.
Brooke said the 10 developers who submitted their resumes yesterday will be whittled down to three or four who will be asked to submit proposals. If that occurs and Lack is chosen, he’ll already have the proposal out of the way.
But that’s a long time coming.
“This is very tentative,” Brooke said. “There’s a lot of public discussion and negotiations that need to take place before we take the next step in this project.”
A complete description of Lack’s proposal is available at Lack said residents will be able to post comments about his proposal at his web site.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wonderful, wonderful concept! Nice to see so much consideration put into this. Hope it gets implemented - it is much needed. Knowing the contractor only thru reputation after living in SB for 20 yrs, think he is perfect for job & will do justice to the project. Good luck!