I’m concerned about the future of the Allied Arts property. As a longtime member of the Woodside-Atherton Auxiliary, I believe that our leadership has done an excellent job of restoring our wonderful buildings and beautiful gardens, and in the process lost Allied Arts’ soul. Since reopening, we have been unable to retain retail tenants which attract traffic to our site, we have closed our popular gift shop, and have just thrown out the strongest draw our facility has ever had, the Palo Alto Auxiliary volunteer-staffed restaurant.
I know our donations to the Children’s Hospital from Allied Arts operations are down, and that our Tally Ho revenues are also below par, but does our leadership really think that hosting meetings, conferences and other events will bring in any significant money? Will businesses come to this neighborhood site? Will the neighbors stand for it?
We’ve tried without success to attract business customers since we re-opened. What’s changed? I understand the Palo Alto Auxiliary restaurant contributed nearly $100,000 a year to Children’s Hospital. We have essentially destroyed that business. Our new “for profit” caterers won’t make any donations, especially when they have labor costs to pay, and just how long will any restaurant or retailer survive at Allied Arts with a steadily diminishing flow of visitors and the usage limitations imposed by Menlo Park?
I think it is time to recognize that our Woodside Atherton leadership is not pursuing a winning strategy. Our rank-and-file member opinions have no apparent affect on business decisions, and revenues and contributions to the hospital continue to fall. Why did we accept millions in donations to renovate Allied Arts, when it appears the money would have been better spent going directly to the hospital? We now have an empty, unused, attractive facility. How sad.
How will the neighbors feel when we are forced to sell the property for who knows what use. How will the hospital feel as it loses yet another source of financial support. And how will we feel, knowing we let it all slip through our fingers.
Over the years I’ve happily worked on the Tally Ho and in our Traditional Shop, but now I’m a very discouraged volunteer. What do other people think?
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