Student housing/retail project nearing completion in Isla Vista

Neil Dipaola described Isla Vista’s newest student housing facility as the box seats at a concert.
The UCSB alumnus used to live in the “front row.” He and 16 of his friends were stuffed like sardines in their oceanfront house, Dipaola said.

“The house hadn’t been renovated in 25 years and reeked of keg parties of yesteryear,” said Dipaola, CEO and managing partner of developer Mesa Lane Partners. “One thing I learned when I was in college on Del Playa was that it was like being in the front row of the concert where you get hit with the sweat from the musician. What we’re building at The LOOP are the box seats.”

The LOOP is a mixed-use project in Isla Vista’s central commercial area that will combine student housing with retail space, creating what its developers say will be a unique, green living environment in the community adjacent to UCSB. It will house about 140 students and three retail stores at 6533 Trigo Road when it opens this summer at the top of what is known as the Embarcadero Loop. The building used to be an auto repair shop, Dipaola said.

The four-story building will feature Pizza My Heart and Crushcakes & Café on the ground floor, and 48 LEED-certified residential units above. There is a 2,751-square-foot commercial space still available on the ground floor, according to Hayes Commercial Group partner Michael Martz.

“It’s a really unique, forward-thinking project in terms of design, how students live and common amenities,” he said. “Nothing has been built like it, and it will set a standard for future development.”

Each unit includes fully furnished bedrooms, full kitchens, soundproof walls, energy-efficient fixtures, WiFi, flat-screen TVs with cable, and ocean or mountain views. The pet-friendly building will include a 24-hour study lounge, car-sharing vehicles, full-service laundry rooms, locked bike parking, RFID keycard access, a rooftop lounge equipped with ping-pong and foosball tables, and an outdoor gym.

Dipaola, a environmental studies and public policy major, designed the building with his team of fellow alumni and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He said the idea from the beginning was to plan and create an energy-efficient building, therefore there was not much added expense.

“Every decision we made ran through a filter of sustainability. For instance, we modeled the windows to take advantage of the most amount of solar light,” Dipaola said. “It’s an amazing natural system we took advantage of. It’s really a smart building and totally connected.”

Rents will start at $775 per bed, plus $150 for utilities, and range from studios for up to two students to “penthouses” that can accommodate six.

Many of the rooms have been leased, but there are still some available, Hayes broker Kristopher Roth said.

“This development is an exciting breakthrough for Isla Vista,” he said. “It has so much going for it — location, design, size, sustainability and a smart mixed-use configuration.”

Dipaola said he hopes students and their parents will enjoy The LOOP as a secure refuge from Isla Vista’s chaos.

“I want parents to feel like their college students are well taken care of and have a safe environment to study, sleep, surf and repeat,” he said. “It’s a place where they can be elevated in box seats above the craziness of IV.”