Deadline passes for input on El Santiago Club; most say they want restaurant

The old El Santiago Club buildilng.
The old El Santiago Club buildilng.

The vast majority of residents who attended Friday’s meeting on the future of the El Santiago Club building indicated there is one thing they want to see in that building — a restaurant.

The meeting, hosted by the Recreation Department, drew a packed house at Savannah Center.

“It’s important to the ambience of that area to have a restaurant in there,” said Carolyn Margolis of the Village of Santo Domingo.

She said the restaurant had been one of the selling points when she bought her house in The Villages.

The old El Santiago club building was purchased from the developer earlier this summer for $350,000 by the Amenity Authority Committee.

At the time, AAC members indicated they weren’t sure what would be done with the building, but expressed little interest in getting into the restaurant business.

Those attendingFriday’s meeting were given surveys to fill out about what they wanted to see for the building.

But many objected to the fact that a restaurant was not among the choices offered.

During the question-and-answer portion of the meeting, a resident asked spontaneously how many attendees wanted a restaurant back in that building. More than three-quarters of the attendees raised their hands.

Villager Richard Greene complained that the restaurant had no chance to succeed because the rent had been raised while the building had fallen into disrepair. However, others suggested the quality of the restaurant had gone downhill and the restaurant’s failure was a matter of market forces.

John Rohan of the Recreation Department said the purpose of the meeting was to gather input and then forward that information to the AAC which will ultimately make a decision.

Some complained that Sunday’s deadline to have surveys turned in was too tight of a timeline. They said they were afraid snowbirds might be shut out of the process.

However, Rohan said the surveys had been publicized through the Recreation News, at postal stations and at the website, (At that website, you can learn more about the El Santiago Club building.)

Valada “Tootie” Jackson of the Village of Palo Alto gently scolded her fellow residents for not staying on top of the situation and for not attending AAC meetings.

She has been a presence at AAC meetings for more than two years, as she has advocated for improvements at Tierra Del Sol Recreation Center.

Residents of the Tierra Del Sol area now find themselves in a similar situation as as El Santiago area residents as the AAC is pondering the purchase of Tierra Del Sol Restaurant.

You can read more about that story at the link below:

The next meeting of the AAC will be at 1:30 p.m. Sept. 11 at Savannah Center.