One of the crown jewels of Santa Barbara commercial real estate has changed ownership from one prominent South Coast family to another.
Riviera Park, which housed the original buildings of what would later become UC Santa Barbara, was sold on July 22 for an undisclosed sum. The seller was the Towbes Foundation, a legacy institution of the late banker and real estate developer Michael Towbes.
The buyer was the Yardi family, an increasingly active real estate investor in the Santa Barbara area, according to a July 23 statement from Ben Romo of Romo & Associates, a spokesperson for the Yardi family.
Towbes was co-founder and owner of Montecito Bank & Trust; Anant Yardi is the founder of Yardi Systems, a global leader in cloud software for large commercial real estate firms. Both Towbes and Yardi are members of the Business Times Hall of Fame.
Riviera Park is an 8.72-acre parcel with 92,744 square feet of commercial space located on Alameda Padre Serra on Santa Barbara’s Riviera. It is adjacent to the El Encanto Hotel, putting the office park and hotel among the top venues on the Central Coast.
Romo said in a statement that the family expects to maintain the property as a campus that “brings value and benefit” to the broader community. The plan is to take the next six to 12 months to evaluate the property and develop a plan, the statement said. The Yardi family has been actively investing in the area, including properties in Santa Barbara’s central business district.
From 1912 until 1935, the property housed the Normal School in Santa Barbara, which became Santa Barbara State College and later, UC Santa Barbara. The property includes grounds with unique views and seven building that currently host architecture, engineering and professional firms as well as nonprofits. One of the property’s unique assets is ample parking.