Santa Barbara hires consultancy Kosmont for downtown revitalization

22 January 2019 3 min. read

The city of Santa Barbara has hired economic development and real estate advisory firm Kosmont Companies to prepare a strategic plan to attract more shoppers to the city’s central business district. The consulting firm will present its findings to City Council in June.

Santa Barbara is looking to get rid of the vacant storefronts dotting its downtown area. According to the Santa Barbara Independent, previous studies have concluded that downtown retailers rely too heavily on tourist dollars and not enough on locals.

To siphon more shoppers into the downtown area, the City Council decided to enlist a consulting firm with the aim of creating an effective downtown revitalization strategy. After running a request for proposals which attracted five firms, a group of business community stakeholders and the city council both selected Kosmont Companies as the top candidate.

Founded in 1986 and based in Manhattan Beach, California, Kosmont delivers economic development and land use consulting services to cities, counties, public agencies, private corporations, landowners, and developers across the state. The firm has an additional office in San Diego.

Santa Barbara hires consultancy Kosmont for downtown revitalization strategy

According to a city council agenda report, Kosmont has “a strong track record of working with cities and public agencies on economic development, downtown retail market analyses, and evaluating real estate projects. They bring a strong understanding of current retail trends and real estate investment and experience working with a wide range of cities.”

Kosmont will be paid $84,000 to create a strategic plan based on informed research and stakeholder analysis. The plan will focus on economic development, transportation and infrastructure, parking, pedestrian experience, regulations, and signage, among other areas.

The plan will include recommendations on shifting the tenant mix to address to the needs of residents, aiding business retention and cutting down vacancies. Kosmont will also share the best practices of other cities in this regard. Relatedly, the plan will recommend strategies for land use planning, identifying the ideal mix of retail, office, and residential.

The plan will also evaluate the effectiveness of economic development business organizations in the city and make recommendations therein. The City of Santa Barbara currently has no official economic development staff.

Next, the plan will address infrastructure and facility upgrades, examining and recommending strategies in regards to streetscapes, sidewalks, and public seating. Kosmont will also look at the option of temporary street closures, pedestrian malls, and a potential Downtown-Waterfront shuttle.

Based on stakeholder consultation, the firm will also review permit, signage, events, and outdoor dining regulations to identify any that are stifling business startup and growth. Finally, the plan will make recommendations on current marketing, arts, and events which promote economic vitality.

The $84,000 for the downtown revitalization plan – expected to be delivered in June – was sourced from salary savings in the Police Department due to vacancies.

Related: Consultancies to build economic strategy for Pittsylvania County and Danville.