In August 2015, the Weekly noted that in its current iteration, the American Tin Cannery had the ghostly feel of so many foundering indoor malls across the country: a rotating roster of tenants, many empty spaces, an interior straight out of the ’70s and not nearly enough shoppers to make the place feel lively.
Our words coincided with the announcement that a powerhouse partnership of experienced hotel developers wants to build a luxury eco hotel on the site of the American Tin Cannery. Project Bella, as the development is currently known, would offer 160 rooms and suites, all with ocean views and include conference and meeting facilities targeted to executive-level meetings, symposia and events in support of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Hopkins Marine Station and, of course, tourists.
Its plans call for the development to achieve LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, meaning it’s to be built to the most exacting environmental standards available. Currently, only two hotels in the U.S. have LEED Platinum status.
But before any of that can take place, the city of Pacific Grove has to have the property rezoned. In 1986, P.G. voters approved an initiative measure that in effect prohibited hotel use at the American Tin Cannery site. It’s currently zoned “visitor commercial” or “heavy commercial,” and voters must decide to change the zoning designations and allow hotel use as permissible on the site.
Recognizing this is a necessary first step – and with an emphasis on first step – the Weekly editorial board recommends P.G. voters check yes on Measure X on their ballots and allow the zoning change to happen. A special election (funded by the developers) is scheduled for April 19, and vote-by-mail ballots have gone out to voters.
Opponents to Measure X argue the property shouldn’t be rezoned until a new water source becomes available. They rightly point out that P.G. obtains its water from California American Water Co., and that Cal Am is staring down a cease-and-desist order from the state to halt over-pumping from the Carmel River. That order is due to kick in next year, and if a new water supply (in the form of a long-awaited and long-stalled desalination plant) doesn’t come online by then, the Peninsula faces economic disaster. If there’s no new water supply, of course new development shouldn’t take place.
But we also go back to the argument that Measure X is only the first of many steps before even a shovelful of dirt can be turned at the American Tin Cannery site, and the first step by which we can all give the project full consideration. If sufficient water is created, and with the right development team already in place, Project Bella will provide a beautiful hotel, create hundreds of long-term jobs and generate much-needed transient occupancy tax for the city of Pacific Grove. A vote for Measure X is a vote for a thriving, sustainable city.