The Port of San Diego's new chairman sees a "Renaissance on the Bay" and wants the Coronado Ferry Landing to be a part of it, though some residents are apprehensive.
Port Chairman Garry Bonelli, who represents the city of Coronado, has only held his new position for a few months but has already held an informal meeting with Coronado residents to explain his idea to transform the ferry landing into a retail and dining oasis.
"Coronado is just a magical place; it’s a place maker’s dream," he told NBC 7. "Doing this right, doing it early, engaging the folks -- don’t wait until the last minute. Let’s get a robust discussion. What do we as Coronadoans want this Ferry Landing to be?"
Bonelli knows Coronado. He is a retired Navy SEAL who spent 45 years in active and reserve service, according to the Port of San Diego. He also knows business and development, spending time with both the San Diego Association of Governments and the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.
In his swearing-in speech in January, Bonelli shared four priorities to improve the San Diego Bay -- one of which was to transform the old Coronado Ferry Landing through a partnership with the city, the port and leaseholders.
Residents are hesitant to accept more development, though.
"We locals have a little joke that the island’s going to sink, there’s so much development here," Coronado resident Susan Ryan said. "We like it quiet and we like it quaint. We like it safe for our children."
At the same time, Ryan says she wouldn't mind seeing some new restaurants -- specifically a burger joint on the landing.
"The shops are good, everything’s good. I’m not quite sure what more they could do down here but put a really good hamburger place," she said jokingly.
Bonelli understands why residents are hesitant.
"It’s change -- change always worries people, but again, understated elegance," he said. "We’re not going to put a gigantic hotel here, make this into a strip mall. This is gonna be Coronado."
The changes wouldn't happen for several more years; the current leaseholder, the Ferry Landing Associates, holds the lease for seven years. Another portion of the landing is under lease for a decade more than that.
Bonelli said the first step to making an updated ferry landing a reality is to talk to the leaseholders. Next, architects would look at the property and come up with ideas for the space.