It’s no illusion. Santa Barbara’s mysterious new magic club has arrived — sort of.
The Magic Castle Cabaret, an elegant, upscale and private club, opened a week ago at 30 Los Patos Way, across the street from the Andrée Clark Bird Refuge.
And even though the private club has opened for some members-only shows on Thursday and Friday nights, it appears that the Magic Castle still has some magic to work with the city’s Architectural Board of Review.
The Santa Barbara ABR has yet to approve elements of the building’s exterior. Senior Planner Beatriz Gularte told Noozhawk Tuesday that the Magic Castle would need a building permit for tenant improvements and a public works permit for any new planters and restriping parking spaces.
The ABR reviewed the project in April. The Magic Castle proposed changes like renovating and expanding the existing front patio, adding a new ADA ramp, restriping the front parking spaces because they encroached into the public right-of-way, and installing new planters. No new floor area was proposed.
Gularte said the ABR continued the project indefinitely when it met in April, and told the architect to restudy the color of the building, restudy the new screening proposed at the roof, “which does not appear to integrate well with the existing building,” provide a landscape plan, showing all removed plantings and relocate the proposed palm tree, and consider planting more “judiciously placed canopy trees to provide additional shade for the building.”
The club’s owner, Arlene Larsen, told Noozhawk that “we’re showing it off,” but that “we’re not open to the public.”
Larsen said she is waiting to hear back from her architect, but in the meantime, “we’re not doing anything major. Everything is done with screws. If they don’t like it we’ll take it down.”
The building was previously occupied by Cafe Del Sol and the Planning and Zoning Division considers the Magic Castle to be under the umbrella of a restaurant.
The Santa Barbara business will be a private club for the property owner’s friends and family and guests, all over the age of 21. The club will open at 5 p.m. and include a bar, appetizers and desserts. Inside, magicians would perform several magic shows throughout the evening, according to a planning consultation that the city performed on the proposal in 2017.
Magician Gene Urban, who performed a week ago at the club’s first performances, said the “the interior is spectacular.”
The Hollywood Magic Castle owners have opened a private club in Santa Barbara. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)
The club’s owners have been collecting artifacts from movie sets going back several decades, he said.
“When people come in they are going to be treated to something they might not see in the United States, but maybe an older town in Europe,” Urban said.
He has lived in Santa Barbara since 1998 and full time since 2014; Urban performs at the Magic Castle in Hollywood, but said he is thrilled about performing in Santa Barbara and not having to commute to Los Angeles once the facility opens.
Plans for the finished club include 89 seats inside the 3,600-square-foot building, including a back stage, green room, dressing room, kitchen, office and gift shop, according to city documents.
Larsen said her husband Milt founded the Hollywood Magic Castle and the Santa Barbara version is her project.
To get in to the private club, “we have to know you,” she said. “It’s a little hangout for our magician friends.”
And unlike some clubs in town, the size of one’s bank account doesn’t matter for entry.
“We’re not open to the public,” Larsen said. “We’re open to our friends.”