Until earlier this month, no one paid much attention to the vacant, rundown, orange building with the distinctive turret on Yosemite Boulevard in Modesto. It wasn't until the owner of the former Cote d'Oro restaurant decided to sell the property to a national retailer and The Bee reported on it that anyone seemed to notice.
A vocal few are now touting the rich history of the site, including the tunnels and passageways intended to thwart law enforcement busts of what was once a nearby speakeasy, now the Eagles Hall. They have held it up as an example of urban development gone awry the destruction of a community icon to make way for a discount store bathed in fluorescent and neon light.
They have even suggested the city name it a historical landmark to protect and preserve it. This begs the suggestion, where were these people during the years this building was for sale? If they are truly enamored of the interesting building, then buy it and restore it.
The city of Modesto is in no condition financially to acquire, renovate and keep up every structure that is more than a few decades old. Nor should the current owner be expected to keep and maintain the property solely for sentimental value.
The 88-year-old building has a unique history one that needs to be documented and remembered. It doesn't, however, have the cultural significance of the McHenry Mansion or the Modesto arch or most of the other 50-plus locales on the city's list of designated landmark sites. Because of vandalism and deterioration associated with it being empty, the Cote d'Oro's best days are far in the past. Unless its last-minute fans are prepared to provide the money to buy and restore it, there isn't any practical reason to keep it standing.
Editor's Note: The complete list of Modesto's designated landmarks is posted with this editorial at www.modbee.com/opinion.