By David Armstrong
“Plus ça change’’ – a saying attributed to French writer Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr – is usually translated as “The more things change, the more they remain the same.’’
Karr wrote those words in the 19th century, and they seem as true now as they did back in his day. Consider this local example: The site of the shuttered Carmel Resort Inn, tucked into the northeast corner of Carmel-by-the-Sea, left empty and forlorn since February when the motel closed without notice.
As we reported in the July/August online issue of The Voice, the minimally maintained, 20-cabin property has been in escrow since 2013, awaiting a sale to would-be buyers from San Jose. As this is being written in early September 2017, the long-pending deal remains in limbo.
In the meantime, the property, which consumes nearly a whole city block west of Carpenter Street and east of Guadalupe Street, south of First Avenue and just north of Second Avenue, continues to molder. A charred, roofless wooden guest cabin that caught fire in September 2016, while the motel was still operating, is still charred and roofless. A garage door outside another cabin that jammed in early 2016 is still broken, open wide enough for small creatures to enter and exit. Yellow warning tape put up in June by the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea on one sliver of the circa-1920s compound is still up.
There are a few visible changes made since mid-summer, possibly at the behest of the property’s owner, Tong Pyong Kim, who has not recently commented on the site. A clutch of flowers blossoms outside worn wooden cabins on the north side of Guadalupe. Some dead and dying pines have been trimmed or taken down. Straw-dry, five-foot-high weeds that sparked fears of fire among neighboring Carmel residents have been mowed. A small tree cloven during a winter storm has been hauled away at last, months after it was damaged by gusting winds.
Rezoned by the city to host private homes in place of the shuttered motel, the site awaits demolition and development. And waits. And waits.