Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider visited Direct Relief Friday, where she toured the site of the organization’s future headquarters, an 8-acre parcel near the Santa Barbara Airport.
Schneider has been Santa Barbara’s mayor for the last eight years and was at the helm when Direct Relief approached the city council with the proposed building plan. The council voted unanimously to allow the airport parcel to be sold to Direct Relief and in 2015 deemed the project a community benefit project.
On Friday, the first of six concrete pours began at the site. Motorists driving down Hollister Avenue will be able to see significant signs of the construction by the end of July when the building’s walls are raised. The concrete panels will form the building’s interior and exterior walls.
The new headquarters and distribution center will be 155,000 square feet – nearly four times the size of Direct Relief’s main facility in Goleta – making it the largest accredited distribution hub for humanitarian medical aid in the nation.
Direct Relief runs the largest charitable medicines program in the United States and is among the largest providers of humanitarian medical aid in the world. The new facility is critical for the organization to keep pace with growing demand for its services. By incorporating state-of-the-art distribution technology, the new facility will also transform how the organization mobilizes medical aid and dramatically increase the efficiency of its operations.
Construction is scheduled to complete by the end of the year.
Direct Relief is planning to move from its current location at 27 S. La Patera to the new facility in January 2018.