Developer’s dream could be Solvang’s nightmare
My letter is in regard to the complex that the developer Mr. St. George is attempting to build in Solvang. I attended a meeting with him and other Solvang citizens on June 27.
After a meeting with Mr. St George, I have discovered that he is not just a developer with plans to build an immense project, dwarfing the Veterans Memorial Hall by putting up a four-story business complex along Mission Drive in Solvang, he is also psychic.
And he is a uniquely gifted storyteller of both fairy tales and horror stories
He has predicted that the airlines will never come back and that the people in L.A. will no longer fly to vacation destinations. They will all come to Solvang. We will benefit from the coronavirus. If he builds his complex “they will come,” in his field of dreams.
People will now come to Solvang, not just for a weekend, they will come for days, a week or multiple weeks. They will come to stay in his $400-$1,000 per night hotel rooms to “rejuvenate” in his spa and fitness center. Solvang will become a health retreat where everyone will ride bicycles everywhere! We will become just like Europe – a phrase he used repeatedly and repeatedly. This is the fairytale.
Now for the nightmare.
The library will be torn down. He has informed us that books are a thing of the past. We do not need a library with books. The young people of today, who are of course the ONLY ones who go to a library, do everything through technology.
So we do not need a library, we need a technology center, which he will provide — a place where all the state-of-the-art technology is available, instead of obsolete books. Oh, there will be “some” children’s books thrown in.
Mr. St George does not seem to recognize that America is not Europe. We have a different culture. We do not wish to substitute our culture for another.
Most American families work for a living and are not free to spend days and weeks to “rejuvenate” on a continuous basis in any location and certainly not exclusively in Solvang. There is no overwhelming demand for our existing exclusive locations. In fact, it is extremely slow during certain times of the year. There is not a demand for what he is offering.
People do read books — they want to read books. It is important for us to read books and have them available to all ages. Just because Mr. St George has decided we don’t, does not make it so.
When asked what happens if he builds it and “they don’t come”? His reply was, “That is a chance I am willing to take.”
We are so relieved that it is a chance HE is willing to take. Because if it fails, he will walk away and will leave Solvang business owners and residents with a white elephant monstrosity far larger than the Outlet Mall at the south end of Solvang, which still looks abandoned.
We warned the developers back then, and we are warning this developer now that his idea will not work here. We were correct back then, and we are correct now.
What he is proposing is not the kind of experience visitors come here for. He cannot change American culture to the European plan he desires. What he purposes will tremendously harm our community while he goes off into the sunset to the retirement he has planned in his beloved Europe.
Mr. St George needs to leave the Veterans Memorial Hall (and its surrounding structures) alone. It belongs to the citizens of Solvang, and it is not for sale. He needs to build something on the property he already owns that will enhance our town. This way he will succeed and so will Solvang. Everyone can win.