There are some people, like Bruce Bratton, who don't like the plans for the new Convention Center on the site of the Dream Inn. His columns all during October include photos of the Dream Inn site before and after it was built. But I've seen the plans for the new hotel and convention center, and I like it.
This link should take you to the city's site with photos and reports. I especially liked the colors of the building: how the white and the beige undulated organically. Take a little time to look at the photos. I don't think it is too big. I don't think it is too massive. I think it is beautiful.
I usually agree with Bratton, but here I differ because I think that convention tourism is absolutely the best industry we could encourage. I say this as someone who has read the daily newspapers of Santa Cruz from the 1860s to the present day. I'm not saying I've lived that long, I'm just saying that for 100 years newspaper editorials have searched for Santa Cruz's best economic engine, and over and over we return to visitors who come, party, spend money, and leave. Light industry has been tried. Farming has been tried. Lumbering and mining has been tried. Oil drilling has been tried. They all either failed outright (we've had a few county gold rushes) or failed due to our remoteness and the economies of scale available to our competitors.
Why not play to our strengths? We have great weather and great nature. We have great restaurants and art. We are difficult to get to, so when people make the trip, they tend to stay for a few days. THIS IS WHERE OUR MONEY IS TO BE MADE.Santa Cruz lost its convention business after WWII, when the trains stopped running and the day trippers came just for the afternoon. This change in the quality of the tourism nearly sunk the town, and the civic leaders thought that we should become a factory town and invited Lipton and Wrigleys for a few decades. But not enough light industry could be enticed here, making the promise of a university campus the last card to play.
When towns in the Central Valley are spending hundreds of thousands to gain the convention business, don't you think that with a new convention center we could just clean Fresno's clock? Why would anyone have a convention in Sacramento when they could have it in Santa Cruz?
And if we're smart, we could even bring them here from San Jose by rail. Wouldn't that be terrific? No car rental needed, yet only a 30 minute train ride through fields and mountains. We have an amazing opportunity to have a rail line at the beach, in front of our convention center. I hope we don't blow it.
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