City leaders and architects officially begin Plaza Granada project
Santa Barbara’s mayor, leading city officials, Granada administrators and architects from Cearnal Collective gathered behind The Granada Thursday morning and officially broke ground on construction of Plaza Granada — a new pathway from the Granada garage to State Street.
Plaza Granada will feature a new performing arts-themed mural, safer pedestrian walkways, better parking, improved lighting, trash facilities, parking and better water drainage.
The $2 million project should begin in the next few weeks and be completed by June.
“Say people are running to get their early morning McDonald’s. They’ll park here and just run through this paseo,” Mayor Cathy Murillo told the News-Press Thursday. “There’s a lot of business through here … People do patronize the (nearby) bar and Saigon (Vietnamnese restaurant) is here, so this is a pretty important throughway for people who park in that garage and access State Street.”
The Granada raised the $2 million for the project, and hopes the plaza will transform the parking lot into a safer, more accessible and more aesthetically pleasing space for theatergoers, pedestrians and the community.
“It’s just another improvement downtown helping people get from one place to another safely,” Mayor Murillo said. “And then, of course, whenever you add a mural, it just elevates the whole space and it’s something to have pride in.”
Architects said the new mural will be eight feet tall and approximately 150 feet wide. It will extend from the State Street sidewalk all the way through the paseo.
After a highly competitive application process, Santa Barbara muralists Tracy Lee Stum and Sayak Mitra were selected for the project.
Caren Rager, president and Chrisham executive director of The Granada, described the mural as “a dynamic, vibrant performing arts-themed mural.”
“With the recent changes taking place downtown, including the closure of State Street allowing greater pedestrian access, Plaza Granada will add a welcoming entry to the cultural heart of Santa Barbara,” Ms. Rager said.
The project is the vision of the late Michael Towbes, who hoped to transform the space into a cultural and welcoming plaza.
“The timing of this project couldn’t be better,” Palmer Jackson Jr., executive chairman of The Granada, said at the groundbreaking ceremony Thursday morning. “This project will dramatically improve the experience for theatergoers and all who use the paseo between the Granada garage and State Street.”
Brian Cearnal, founder of Cearnal Collective and architect of this project, said that after 10 years in the making, he’s excited to finally see the project begin.
“I came to town 40 years ago and I remember this paseo,” he said. “It was always kind of this junky spot that got full of water in the winter and it was like, ‘When is something going to happen here?,’ and trash was everywhere.
“Santa Barbara is so about paseos, and we’re finally going to make this a real paseo that’s going to celebrate the performing arts at The Granada Theatre and be a safe place, a safe connection, for people using the Granada garage going to State Street.”
To learn more about Plaza Granada, visit granadasb.org/plazagranada.