Thursday, September 28, 2023

“Cottages at the Cays” Persists Amid Much Opposition 

Coronado residents gather for the “Cottages at the Cays,” Open House presentation

The ambitious “Cottages at the Cays” proposal is still in motion despite much community opposition. On Saturday morning, December 3rd, Cays Resort, LLC held a presentation on their proposal for the North Grande Caribe Isle and offered a Q&A opportunity. The meeting was held at the Coronado Island Marriott Resort.

There had been a previous informational Open House hosted at the Cays Yacht Club on November 3rd. Many of the project principles were available at that meeting for questions during the casual, unstructured evening. Down the road from the meeting though was the Coronado Cays HOA, which had set up a “No Cottages at the Cays! Support a future park!” petition that many signed shortly after attending the open house.  

Current leaseholder, Keith Mishkin, opened this December presentation by explaining that their goal is for the community to gain a deeper understanding of the project and to provide feedback for the team to work with. For those not familiar, “Cottages at the Cays” is a proposed plan by Cays Resort, LLC to replace the current boatyard storage area on the North Grande Caribe Isle with a vacation destination space of rental units. The design is a significant reduction from an earlier 2020 proposed Inn at the Cays, which was ultimately opposed due to it not aligning with the Port Master Plan. Mishkin explained that the main feedback they received and then prioritized was to transform the proposed four-star hotel into something less impactful from a density and traffic standpoint. The transformation to the current proposal was inspired by Sun Outdoors, an RV-Resort in Chula Vista across the bay from the Cays. 

Greg Mueller, who is the Principal Designer and CEO of Tucker Sadler Architects, continued the morning presentation by analyzing the design plans for the audience. Mueller explained that because the ‘cottages’ (fixed on-site “RV”s) are built off site, it ensures less impact on the environment. The layout consists of 41 units in total, which is a major downsize compared to the original 240 room Inn at the Cays hotel proposal. There are also visions to develop a connecting boardwalk, recreation space, playground, public restrooms and a waterfront cafe market. Ultimately, Mueller expressed, “The scale of the project is for something that fits the community and fits the bay front.” However, it seems the community lacks support for the endeavor. 

Renderings of the site plan

Many Coronado Cays residents have expressed their feedback and not much is positive. The main concerns of the proposal center around how the character of the development is not for the benefit of the community. The three specific issues that were prevalent throughout the Q&A portion of the meeting regarded environment, traffic, and privacy concerns.  

Councilmember Marvin Heinze, who has been involved with Coronado for over 30 years and is a Coronado Cays resident, provided his input when asked about the project. “The leasehold on Grand Caribe island is unique as it is adjacent to a National Wildlife Refuge and the only access is through a residential community. Accordingly, any commercial development needs to take into account the impacts that it may have on the surrounding homes and environment. Over the past 39 years of this lease, a number of proposals for hotels have been rejected by the Port due to the impacts on the community. This smaller hotel proposal will also have negative impacts on the community and is an inappropriate development of this property. The leaseholder would be more successful in moving a project forward if he talked with the community and learned what commercial activities neighbors would support and patronize.”

Heinze further explained by calculating simple cost analysis, Mishkin is highly unlikely to recover his investment during the final ten years. “It appears the leaseholder may be attempting to get the Port Master Plan changed to remove this future park from the designated Port ‘Green Necklace’ in 2034.”

Therefore, the majority of locals have proposed an alternative project. Cays residents have suggested the creation of a park. This would align with the goals expressed by the presentation, which is to increase public access while still respecting the concerns of the community. 

When asked his motivation for “Cottages at the Cays,” Keith Michigan closed by responding, “We have owned property and have been coming here for over 40 years. This is our happy place and we absolutely love Coronado. My interest here is to look at what our land use is, what is the history here and how this man-made isle was created. It makes economic sense to make a boatyard, however, I wanted to elevate that. I thought creating an iconic four star hotel would be insanely welcoming, however, we received the feedback to get something less intensive. So that is where we are now… I want to be mindful and I am very available to talk to any of you. Thank you.” 

The backers of the proposed plan hope it is deemed a project by the Port of San Diego by early 2023. For more information on the plan you can visit the website here



Kaylee Smith
Kaylee Smith
Kaylee was born and raised in San Diego, becoming an official Coronado local in 2015. As a homeschooler, her life has looked a little different from your average teenager. From cruising amusement parks mid week to attending community college since the age of 14, life as the oldest of five stays full. When not crafting together a story, she loves training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and playing beach volleyball. Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: [email protected]