by Nick Welsh
The City Hall powers-that-be saw fit to hold a grand opening celebration for downtown’s Granada Garage several months after it opened for business. After much grazing and mingling, Mayor Marty Blum and all the city councilmembers — with the exception of Brian Barnwell — gathered for a ceremonial ribbon-cutting for a parking structure that went up after three false starts, lawsuits, redesigns, record winter rains, and the fatal heart attack of its chief engineer, George Gerth. As much because of these hardships as in spite of them, the new garage — 525 spaces and $25 million in construction costs — was proclaimed an architectural splendor, an engineering delight, and the anchor for what downtown businesses hope will become a new arts and culture scene. In addition to parking spaces, high walls, and monumental steps, the new structure — which county Supervisor Salud Carbajal likened to the Taj Mahal — will soon include 12 low-income apartments and a bike station that offers showers, lockers, and secure bicycle parking for up to 80 bipedal commuters. The fly in the ointment yet to be addressed is the lack of a holding lane for cars entering the lot at the Anapamu Street entrance.