After careful research and deliberation over the past several years, with particular focus over the past 18 months, Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara’s Board of Directors has made the strategic decision to sell the Girls Inc. property located at 531 E. Ortega Street. Proceeds from the sale will allow Girls Inc. to to invest in expanded outreach programming to reach more girls and teens “where they are”, moving away from offering only center-based programming to offering more diverse, hybrid options that increase access for girls and teens to participate.
The 1.46 acre Ortega Street property has been a treasured cornerstone of the surrounding downtown neighborhoods and our local gymnastics community, providing a safe and supportive place for girls for more than five decades. The property is the current home of Girls Inc. Gymnastics, the Girls Inc. Santa Barbara Center for after-school and summer enrichment programs, and Girls Inc. administrative offices.
The Santa Barbara Center (built in 1964) did not reopen in 2020-2021 following closure due to the pandemic. Over the past decade the demands for major repairs to the aging infrastructure have grown cost-prohibitive for the organization. The board’s decision directly puts resources toward program support and delivery over maintaining physical buildings. The Girls Inc. Santa Barbara affiliate is one of only a handful of Girls Inc. affiliates that still operates a center-based program delivery strategy. It began its move away from center-based service pre-pandemic, with COVID-19 only increasing the timeline for this transition when girls could not attend buildings.
“We recognize that 531 E. Ortega has been the place where so many memories, joy and growth occurred for girls and staff in our community,” said Girls Inc. Board President Tracy Jenkins. “Making the strategic decision to sell the property has been a multi-year process and does not come lightly. This decision is a necessary step in the growth of our work and allows the organization the flexibility to serve more girls in expanded and innovative ways.”
For our Santa Barbara After-School and Summer Enrichment program families:
Girls Inc. will continue to serve you in downtown Santa Barbara following the property sale, albeit in a different way – through partnerships with schools, community centers, other youth programs, at businesses/corporations, and virtually. Girls Inc. has already begun implementing these offsite programming agreements to serve girls downtown, including working with People’s Self Help Housing to deliver programming to middle school-aged girls at Jardin de Las Rosas.
For our Santa Barbara Gymnastics program families:
Girls Inc. is committed to serving our Gym families and offering full gymnastics programming (recreational and team) without interruption at the Ortega Gymnasium through May of 2022. In the coming months, our board and staff will explore and evaluate options for a longer-term strategy for the Gymnastics program beyond May 2022, including enhancements to our Goleta gym to enable expanded programming and training at that location. The Girls Inc. Goleta Valley campus currently serves as a second gymnastics program location, and will continue to operate, as is.
Center-based programming at the Girls Inc. Goleta Valley and Teen Center will not be impacted and will continue without disruption.
The property is listed with Brad Frohling at Radius Group.
Please direct programming related questions to Tom Blabey, interim CEO / COO, 805-963-4757 x8401.
The Girls Inc. Experience is bigger than four walls; it is the pro-girl environment created by our staff and our programming. We remain 100% committed to serving girls and their families throughout Santa Barbara County and in the places where girls need us most.”
Tracy Jenkins, Board President