Something better needs to happen for the American Tin Cannery.  We “see” the ATC, but don’t really see the site as it is today.  Inside, a long walk by empty stores echoes our footsteps with an eerie sense of abandonment.   Anyone looking closer sees the signs of decay, a fate for any building that is so under-used.  Windows frames are rusted; cracked sawtooth ceiling windows are crisscrossed with duct tape.  Outside, many trees are in distress.  Large dumpsters front the coastal trail.  The “scenic” view from Central and Eardley features a dominant white Outlets sign.

Cannery Row Company has faithfully maintained what it can.  Yet inevitably, the site needs a better role, a role that can serve visitors and our community productively.  It’s time for renewal.

The ATC sits in a very special location.  To the east lies Cannery Row, the historical connection for the ATC. Cannery Row has been revived from ruins by visionaries who found a way to resurrect the area and draw over 4 million visitors a year.  To the west lie 4 miles of the finest city coastline in California.  Across the street, we see Hopkins Marine Station and the Aquarium, anchors on the Bay for marine research and stewardship.  The ATC site is zoned as a visitor-serving location and is perfect for a hotel for visitors who are drawn by our natural resources and heritage.

In my own contact with the project team, I found them professional, disciplined in their approach, and open to addressing the concerns of the community while designing a viable project.  In the updated application they have eliminated the subgrade parking and associated excavation.  The landscaping plan increases the green space on the property.  They have reduced the mass to retain better views.  The plan includes significant sustainability features for water usage, solar, EV charging stations, and more. The hotel will contain local cultural interpretive exhibits and a display on the heritage of the site. The project team is also planning to include exhibits that showcase the natural history of Pacific Grove.

The plan shows a very big upgrade to the visual appeal of the site, blending a large portion of the sawtooth section plus new building designs with extensive landscaping, including rooftop gardens.  It will offer publicly accessible courtyards and seating with food and beverage options.

While the hotel will serve visitors to our area, it will also contain meeting facilities needed by our residents for business or social events.  Why must PG groups go to Spanish Bay or elsewhere?

In a simple sense, heritage is what we show guests when they come to visit us.  It’s what we are proud of about our city, and it’s the stories we tell as we show them around.  The proposed design honors the early story of the site and prompts a whole new story of the vibrant part the ATC site will play in our city’s future.

Please join me in supporting this project.  It is both essential and desirable for the kind of future we deserve for Pacific Grove.

– Bill Kampe is the former mayor of Pacific Grove