Port Of San Diego Chairman Bonelli Discusses Future Of Ferry Landing - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: Coronado City News

Port Of San Diego Chairman Bonelli Discusses Future Of Ferry Landing

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Posted: Friday, March 15, 2019 3:06 pm

In what could best be described as a tour de force presentation, Port of San Diego Chairman and Coronado Resident Garry Bonelli appeared at the Coronado Baptist Church Tuesday, March 5, 2019, to address proposed plans for the Ferry Landing, which resides on Port property. The program was coordinated by the Coronado Point Condominium Owners’ Association and the crowd that filled the church was composed primarily of residents of the Coronado Point and The Landing, both located in close proximity to the Ferry Landing.

Speaking for an hour and 20 minutes, Bonelli first discussed what the 90-minute presentation would include:

• His 50-year background with Navy and Coronado

• Information about the Port, including a 10-minute PowerPoint trip around the Bay, which reflected his theme in office of ‘Renaissance on the Bay.’

• A discussion of the Ferry Landing including residents’ feedback.

Bonelli said, “I’m here to start a dialogue. The Ferry landing won’t change in next five or six years, but plans will be underway during that time.”

During his verbal and pictorial trip around the Bay, Bonelli mentioned the process behind the renovation of what used to be Anthony’s Restaurant. “Land use on the water is contentious and emotional. The lease was up for Anthony’s Restaurant and they had been letting things go. We told the owners they could bid on the new lease, but we were going to open the lease up. The Morton Family is spending $14 million to build Portside Pier with four restaurants including Brigantine on the Bay, Miguel’s Cocina, Ketch Grill & Taps and Portside Gelato and Coffee. There will be public access to the Bay all around it.”

That tidbit was a sharp reminder that the Port’s charge, in addition to making public policy for 34 of the 51 miles of waterfront property in the region, is to maximize income from operations doing business on the Port Tidelands. Between the remodel of Seaport Village over the next six to nine years, with a price tag approaching $1.5 billion, and the 535-acre Chula Vista Marina Project, which is a partnership between the Port and the City of Chula Vista, the face of the Bay is changing rapidly.

Before taking questions from the audience, Bonelli said the current Ferry Landing area was divided into two leaseholds. The lease on the Ferry Landing itself expires in seven years and the second leasehold, which is comprised of the Il Fornaio Restaurant and the blank restaurant pad next to it, expires in 17 years.

Bonelli said as an overview of his thoughts on the Ferry Landing, “We looked at all the things we are doing around the Bay and at the proposal of the leaseholder. And I thought, ‘Can we do it better in Coronado?’ Can the Port, the leaseholder and the City of Coronado come together and be creative about what can go into the Ferry Landing. I walked into the storm a little bit. The reason Miles Harvey called me is so I could meet with the people who are most impacted, the people closest to it. I want to start a conversation, the first of many, about what we can do. I’m trying to give a great waterfront to our residents.”

Later Bonelli said, “I met with Flagship Properties and they have renderings of what they think they would like the Ferry Landing to be. In looking at their piece of property, I’m interested, but can we do it better? There is more land on First Avenue. Instead of waiting and coming up with a full-scale plan, I want to get your input over the next year or so. Some people might like to leave the Ferry Landing alone and that might be an alternative. I’m starting with a clean sheet of paper. The city has land and we can partner with them. The more land we have, the more creative we can be. Personally, I am concerned about the view corridor and access to the Bay. It will take a multi-year process to see what is doable. Whatever we come up with, the Port, the leaseholder and the city, there will be a CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) process for impacts on the Ferry Landing.”

Somewhat humorously, the Q&A session careened off the track on occasion and grew to encompass traffic concerns; reinstituting the toll on the San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge; the location of the bridge itself; and recent flooding in the city due to the heavy rains. Important issues all, but just not the issue at hand.

One attendee spoke passionately, referencing a series of architect’s renderings produced on behalf of the leaseholder. “What has crystallized for a lot of us is what we don’t want. I would hate to see anything destroy our Village charm and we are concerned about the plans we saw. The buildings would be a lot closer to the Coronado Point. And I am really concerned about a Joint Powers Agreement with the City to develop the land on the other side of First Street, on the site of the City Public Works building. It’s not so great if you drive through a tunnel of buildings. I’ve been following the Port’s work for 25 years and I wouldn’t let the Port design a dog house for me. We’re concerned about traffic, preserving the city’s charm and we don’t want a parking structure and we don’t want a hotel.” The remarks were met with applause from many of those in attendance.

As for the future, Bonelli said on a variety of topics:

• “Any changes to the Ferry Landing, including a traffic proposal will have to come under CEQA, which will include 18 months of public participation on what the impacts to air, water, lighting and the Bay itself are. That is part of the public process.

• “The best Ferry Landing we will get is if you guys (the audience) are staying on top of it.

• “Being a leaseholder on the Bay is a great place to be and to make money. As the end of the lease is getting close, you better be contacting us (the Port) with plans and a vision for the development in the future. We have 800 tenants and sub-tenants and we want to know early and often what your plans are.

• “When I stand down at the Ferry Landing, it’s spectacular.

• “I pledge to keep you informed and to be transparent.”

The meeting ran from 5:05-6:25 p.m. Bonelli stayed afterwards and answered additional questions from the public.

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