Editorials

Editorial: No reason to save this old building

We’re glad to see that the Arroyo Grande City Council didn’t let a Pink Elephant sidetrack a worthwhile project that will greatly enhance the historic Village.

The Pink Elephant was the name of a malt shop that briefly operated in the Village during the 1960s — a short-lived enterprise later succeeded by a barber shop and a variety of offices. It’s now home to the city’s Building and Life Safety Division.

Under a plan approved by the City Council on Tuesday, the building will be torn down to make way for a pedestrian plaza/commercial development. An ardent group of preservationists lobbied the council to keep the Pink Elephant building intact.

We can understand why many longtime residents feel nostalgic about the building and want it to be preserved.

However, that must be balanced against the historic record, and in this case, an assessment conducted in 2008 turned up no overriding reason to save the structure. It isn’t associated with any significant event or person, and it isn’t a particularly good example of a period of history or an architectural style. Nor is it unique; as the report correctly notes, “ the city has many other examples of a modest, simple office building.”

We support preservation of buildings that have true historic significance, but we don’t believe this building qualifies.

Its demolition will allow the Village to evolve to accommodate changing needs. Not only will the development provide additional commercial and park space, it also will allow for the much-needed expansion of City Hall by facilitating a building swap between the city and the project developer.

And now that the city has signed off on a plan to keep Short Street open to one-way traffic, that should allay concerns about circulation.

The City Council made the right decision in approving the project. Now, we urge city officials to carefully monitor all phases of construction to ensure that it meets — or even better, exceeds — expectations.

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