Araya leaving mayoralty with legacy of a restored Botica Solera

Today is a big day for Johnny Araya, the mayor of San José who is leaving that job to continue his run for president.

At 10 a.m. there is the inauguration of the restored Botica Solera, that unusual building in Barrio México that had been taken over by drug users and assorted hobos.

Then tonight at 6:30, Araya will be the guest of honor at what is being called a homage put on by athletes and the various sports committees. That will be at the Ciudad Deportiva de Hatillo.

Araya is wrapping up 22 years as mayor. One of the crowning achievements has to be the restoration of the Botica Solera, which guards one of the entrances to the capital at the five-corner intersection at Avenida 9 at Calle 10.

In fact, it is the strange intersection that makes Botica Solera unique. It resembles the New York Flatiron Building which also was constructed on a triangular lot. The building was built to be a drug store in the early 1930s. Early photos show that it originally was one floor, although that is not obvious today.

The Municipalidad de San José spent 350 million colons to fix up the historic structure. That’s about $700,000. The building, which had been invaded and turned into an informal hotel for the homeless and addicts, was not the only problem. There were title problems, too, that had to be resolved.

The restoration began in November 2011 when workers put on a new roof and sealed the building to outsiders. The building was reinforced and a new electrical system installed. The idea is to make the building a cultural center to aid in the restoration of the entire area.

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