DOWNTOWN — Just in time for the holiday shopping crush, Parking Structure 6 is set to open this Thursday.
Meanwhile, City Hall plans to demolish Parking Structure 3 in Downtown sometime in the future, said Andy Agle, director of Housing and Economic Development.
Parking Structure 1 will likely undergo the same seismic upgrades just completed for Parking Structure 6.
City Hall is planning to enliven the ground floor of Parking Structure 5, envisioning a large customer service center that may require the ousting of some current tenants. A deal that would have brought a Big Blue Bus customer service booth to the area recently fell through.
And the above mentioned structures, in fact all of Parking Structures 1 through 6, are currently in the middle of a dispute between City Hall and the California Department of Finance. Following the dissolution of Santa Monica’s redevelopment agency, state officials are disputing the transfer of 11 properties that used redevelopment funds. City officials went to Sacramento to fight for the properties last month but, they say, it’s going to be a long, slow process.
Parking Structure 6
Demolished early last year, Parking Structure 6 has since been rebuilt and will have a soft opening later this week, said Jason Harris, economic development manager. The garage adds 700 new spaces to Downtown and several retail spaces to the ground floor.
Construction of the retail spaces will begin this summer, after City Hall executes leases with tenants. Downtown Santa Monica Inc. has approved five businesses for the ground floor:
• Haagen Daas, an ice cream shop;
• Orangetheory, a group fitness studio featuring interval-based cardio and strength training;
• Espresso Cielo, a coffee shop;
• KC’s Chocolate Cafe, serving gourmet chocolates;
• Electric Yoga, a Iyengar yoga studio with women’s athletic apparel.
Parking Structures 3 and 1
All of the structures built in the 1960s and ‘70s have undergone seismic strengthening except for structures 3 and 1, Agle said.
Last week, council reached a preliminary agreement with a developer for a nearby project proposed on Arizona Avenue between Fourth and Fifth streets. The agreement, as currently written, includes 1,220 parking spaces, 580 of which would be public.
This, Agle said, could alleviate some of the parking needs Downtown.
“Some Downtown stakeholders are hopeful that if enough public parking is built at Fourth, Fifth [and] Arizona, in the long term, we could convert both PS 3 and PS 1 to other uses that would help enliven that part of Downtown,” he wrote in an e-mail.
The short term plan, he said, is to demolish Parking Structure 3 and reconstruct Parking Structure 1. There is no timetable set for demolition.
Parking Structure 5
Plans for Big Blue Bus to sublet its Transit Store and open a customer service center below Parking Structure 3 are on hold.
A deal, which would have put California Love, a clothing store, in the Transit Store’s current space on Broadway, fell through when city planners realized the property has a shortage of bathrooms.
Currently, the Transit Store shares a bathroom with the adjacent cigar store, Lone Wolf, said BBB spokesperson Suja Lowenthal. The retail spaces are required to have independent bathrooms, she said, and any subleasing deal would first require them to be built.
“What we went to council with did not include the costs associated with adding new restrooms,” she said.
BBB officials are not currently negotiating with any prospective tenants, but the space is still on the market.
Subleasing the store at the rate that California Love had agreed to would have saved BBB $219,000 over the next four years.
Plans to move BBB’s customer service center to Parking Structure 5 kicked off a long-term conversation about what to do with its ground-floor retail. One plan involves merging Central Parking’s customer service area with BBB and several other transit and City Hall public service booths.
Freeing up room for the customer service center could necessitate ending leases with a few of the tenants, some of whom have been around for decades.
Peter Katsikides, 74, owns the barber shop below the structure. He’s been there for 21 years, he said, and City Hall has never approached him about moving out.
“It’ll never happen,” he said. “I want to die here.”