SANTA BARBARA, CA – September 14, 2021 – Lee & Associates, a leader in commercial real estate services throughout North America, announces one of the largest-ever sales of hotel property in Santa Barbara, the Hotel Californian located at the front door of the city’s booming Funk Zone has traded to one of businessman Bill Foley’s companies for an undisclosed figure.
The deal, which closed September 1, was led by local Santa Barbara commercial real estate firms Radius Commercial Real Estate and Lee & Associates Central Coast, with Austin Herlihy and Chris Parker of Radius representing the seller, and Steve Leider and Clarice Clarke of Lee & Associates representing the Foley entity.
Foley is the founder of Foley Family Wines, which includes top-tier vineyards and wineries in the US, France, and Argentina, including northern California properties in Sonoma and Napa Counties and in Santa Barbara County’s Santa Ynez Valley. He is also the chairman of Foley Entertainment Group (“FEG”), which oversees a swath of sports properties including the perennial Stanley Cup contending Vegas Golden Knights, Henderson Silver Knights of the American Hockey League, Vegas Knight Hawks of the Indoor Football League as well as leisure properties and restaurants across California, Nevada, and Montana. FEG operates two community hockey facilities in Southern Nevada and will be debuting a 6,000 seat arena in Henderson, NV in the spring of 2022.
Located just a block from Santa Barbara’s waterfront and occupying three corners of the prominent State Street and Mason Street intersection, the 121‐room hotel, which recently underwent a major re‐development, includes over 21,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space. The property has been heralded as the “gateway to the city” and is widely considered the major catalyst for development and renewed interest in Santa Barbara’s historic Funk Zone district upon its opening at the end of Summer 2017 after about 17 years and millions invested in planning, permits, and construction.
The re‐developed, landmark property was originally home to the historic Hotel Californian which was built in 1925 and destroyed shortly after in a major earthquake that rocked the area. The property sat vacant and derelict for decades until it was purchased complete with permits as a major development project titled “La Entrada” (trans: gateway or entrance) in 2011 by 35 State Street Hotel Partners, after a deal with another buyer fell through. Herlihy was also a key player in the team responsible for that sale.
“I’ve been intimately involved with this property since the inception of the La Entrada re‐development project and it’s extremely rewarding to see it continue to spark activity and interest in the Santa Barbara community,” said Herlihy.
Under its new ownership, the hotel will benefit from the expertise of FEG, which is also led by co‐CEO Randy Morton who helped run big‐name Las Vegas properties including Bellagio Resort and Casino and MGM Resorts International.
“With their expertise in the service and leisure industry, the new owners plan to bring their own special brand of energy to the Hotel Californian,” added Leider. “Additionally, the hotel will be a showcase for Foley Family Wines brands including well‐known Central Coast labels from Foley Estates, Firestone Vineyard and Lincourt Estates, to name just a few.”
“We are thrilled to welcome Hotel Californian to the Foley Entertainment Group family,” said Foley Entertainment Group co‐CEO Randy Morton. “Hotel Californian has embraced the incredible opportunity of being part of the renaissance of Lower State Street and the growth of Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone. We look forward to innovative collaborations with the Foley Food & Wine Society and other FEG entities to enhance the guest experience even further.”