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Towbes Group Focuses on Apartment Living to Help Meet Need for Affordable Housing

The Towbes Group Chairman Michael Towbes thinks the Central Coast could use more affordable rental housing options, an area the local real estate firm has spent the past few years developing and investing in heavily.

That’s why, on the heels of completing an expansion and recreational center renovation at Willow Springs apartment complex in Goleta, The Towbes Group is preparing to submit plans for another development to the City of Goleta.

The 10-year-old complex just added 100 more one- to three-bedroom apartments — all leased before construction was even complete — bringing its total to 335 units. An expanded pool area, new clubhouse, an upgraded entertainment center and more were recently built to accommodate the growth.

Next up on the horizon will be Heritage Ridge, a 360-unit project to be built on a vacant 16-acre parcel immediately north of Willow Springs along Los Carneros Road.

Heritage Ridge, so-named for the ridge running through the property, would feature 132 rental units for seniors and 228 workforce-housing apartments, constructed on the east side of Los Carneros Road on land Towbes’ firm already owns. Goleta City Council just approved a separate nearby development, Village at Los Carneros, to be built on the west side of the road.

“We’d like to be through the process and approved and ready to start construction in about two years,” Towbes told Noozhawk. “A lot depends on how fast the city will process the project. I think there’s a terrific need for that, especially in this area. People in the workforce sometimes move to other areas for their jobs. If they’re renting, they can move to another location. It’s a good alternative for working people.”

Goleta City Council in the coming weeks.

Heritage Ridge, billed by Towbes as a smaller, less expensive option than Willow Springs, would bring to 11 the number of residential properties Towbes has developed and managed in Santa Barbara County. The company owns and operates more than 2,100 residential units throughout Santa Barbara and the Tri-County area.

Towbes said his firm seems to be the only local outfit centering building efforts on affordable rental housing, especially in areas such as Goleta, where many businesses coexist with a limited inventory of less affordable single-family housing.

“Right now our focus is on apartments,” he said. “As quickly as we built the (Willow Springs) building, we had all the apartments rented. We’ve got a lot of community support for what we’re doing. We’re not next to any single-family neighbors. There’s really been no opposition to these projects.”

The ongoing drought has many locals worried about water consumption, particularly in connection with recent developments, such as the Rincon Palms and Village at Los Carneros.

Towbes said an agreement made with the Goleta Water District some years ago makes him confident Heritage Ridge won’t present issues, but it all depends on what city officials think once they see plans.

The ones present Friday, including Mayor Michael Bennett, had nothing but good things to say about Willow Springs.

“I just think there’s a continued need for that type of housing,” Towbes said, “and we’re going to do our best to fill some of that need.”

— Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at [email protected] Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook

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