Over the next few weeks, we’re excited to share a behind the scenes look at the people who have made this visionary project possible. To start, meet Marge Cafarelli, Managing Partner with Urban Developments and the leading force behind Alma del Pueblo.
What’s your personal history in Santa Barbara?
I fell in love with Santa Barbara when I moved here as a young professional, right out of college. Over the years, I grew and learned the real estate trade, working on developing restaurants that would become fixtures of Santa Barbara’s culinary scene. I had the good fortune to develop some beloved local restaurants, including Tutti’s, Rocky Galenti’s, the Bakery – just to name a few. Our city truly is a special place.
You’re involved in a number of local causes. Tell us about them.
I’m delighted to be Vice Chair of the Board for Music Academy of the West. The Academy nurtures the next generation of great classical musicians. Several years ago, my partner and I were invited to an alumni concert featuring a young vocalist and a pianist. We were bowled over by the talent and when we learned this is an all-scholarship program, I said, “how can I get involved?” It’s an outstanding program that is making a significant contribution to classical music and the lives of young classical musicians.
Secondly, there’s the Community Environmental Council (CEC), which raises awareness on the most pressing environmental issues affecting greater Santa Barbara. I sit on the CEC’s Partnership Council, which champions the CEC’s mission – raising funds, advocating for and advising the organization in its efforts to move away from fossil fuel dependence. The CEC does great work, including adding 800 megawatts of solar power to our region and helping to build over 100 electric-vehicle public charging stations. I’m thrilled to help them achieve these real impacts.
Also, I serve on the board of the UCSB Economic Forecast Project, which does the smart and challenging work of ensuring that our local economy stays on track.
Can you fill us in on the origin of the vision for Alma del Pueblo?
Environmental sustainability is a deeply held value of mine. I envisioned a mixed-use project that not only achieved the LEED platinum designation, but also would be vibrant and textural to the community. So, in addition to utilizing the finest in green practices, we wanted a commercial component that wasn’t formula retail. With Santa Barbara’s commitment to healthful living, small business and locally-sourced foods, the notion of the Santa Barbara Public Market was born – a collection of best-in-class merchants to emulate the great public markets from around the world.