The City of Santa Cruz recently put on a State of the City presentation at the Hotel Paradox to a packed room. Those in attendance were treated to a look back at the 150 years since Santa Cruz was first incorporated, followed by a look at current issues and a look towards the future through a strategic plan that is being implemented from 2015 through 2020.
Santa Cruz has an image and impact worldwide that far exceeds the 64,632 people who live here year round. This is in large part thanks to the many prominent companies who started here, along with a growing number of national companies choosing to open offices in Santa Cruz in the past few years.
Powered by our unique cultural identity and natural beauty of the Central Coast, our biggest draw continues to be a strong tourism industry (with the Boardwalk alone bringing well over 3 Million people annually), and the City is rising to meet that demand with 801 new hotel rooms either recently opened or approved. Most prominent among these is the La Bahia, which will be a 165-unit hotel with conference and banquet space, restaurant, retail space and spa facilities.
With our median price for homes at $798,000 countywide, and the average cost of a 2-bedroom apartment at $2400 per month, the cost of living is another priority being addressed through the robust approval of no less than 10 multi-residential projects currently under construction. These include several which are specifically designated low-income housing for those not fortunate enough to be members of the less than 30% of the population countywide who can afford to buy a home here. There are also at least another 10 projects approved/waiting to be built and at least 10 more pending applications.
A few of the larger projects include an assortment of 3 and 4-story mixed use developments of as many as 94 residential units Downtown over street level commercial space, a project on the Westside to add 400,000 SF of industrial space plus 248 residential units, several live/work developments, a 51-unit senior/memory care facility on Jewell St and a 63-unit affordable housing development on Ocean St with 6700 SF of commercial space. There are also multiple commercial and cultural developments in the approval and construction process, including an 8,405 SF commercial use on Ocean St and the new venue for Shakespeare Santa Cruz being constructed up by Delaveaga.
For those interested in development, or in opening or moving a business here, the City’s Economic Development office is an excellent resource (@SantaCruzEDO, #ChooseSantaCruz or ChooseSantaCruz.com), and for my part connecting the developer and entrepreneurial community with the many emerging housing.