The Downtown Parking Garage: A Glorious Monstrosity

I remember the protests and the threatened (and actual) boycotts. I remember the op-ed pieces for and against. I remember neighbors and neighborhood taking sides. “It’s going to destroy the small-town feel of the Park Steet corridor!” “No, it’s going to revitalize Park Street–bring it back from the dead!”

My law office is just up the street from the garage on Oak Street so I’ve watched its effect on Park Street from a ringside seat. My first observation is more of a recollection. When my wife Jennifer and I first moved to Alameda in 1998 with our one-year-old (he’s now a freshman at Encinal!), I remember driving down Park Street and remarking that other than for a haircut or Asian food, I had no reason to set foot on Park Street. I’ve since gone bald so if things hadn’t changed I would never go to Park Street at all because Asian food doesn’t always agree with me.

I also remember driving down Park Street after sundown and thinking it looked like a ghost town. It would have been perfect for a zombie movie.

Fast forward to 2012 and I’ll be the first to say that the yeasayers were prophetic and the naysayers lacked vision. Since the parking garage and the attached multiplex opened, I can count on one finger the number of times our family–with three more kids now added to the mix–has left the island to see a movie.

With such convenient parking we have also focused our dining attention on Park Street with enthusiasm. I admit that the restaurants have always been more diverse than I used to realize, but it took that parking garage for us to start exploring.

Mission accomplished! The Pixtons are staying on the island to spend our money. My wife says half jokingly–and I know she’s not the only one–that if we just had a Target, we’d never leave the island. I think if I dig deeper I can get everything I might find at Target in the local businesses we already have just up the street or avenue in Alameda.

And the garage itself simply doesn’t look that bad. Does anyone remember that shack on the corner of Oak and Central that housed Video Maniacs? How about that oddly-paved parking lot where the careless speeder could easily drop a transmission? How could this not be an improvement?

The only gripe I have concerns that infernal elevator. Someone should call the folks at Guinness because I think we might have the world’s slowest elevator.