Residents try to save Morro Bay boat building



After five years of being in a boat-shaped building, Dockside 3 on the Embarcadero in Morro Bay is closing its doors, and the building is scheduled to be demolished—but some residents want to preserve the site.

Mark Tognazzini, the owner of Dockside 3, a smokehouse and oyster bar, said he knew when he signed the lease five years ago that eventually the business would close, but he hoped otherwise.

"We thought—and I guess we were very naïve—we thought that with our five years in there, we could convince the city to do the right thing and convince the owner to do the right thing. It fell pretty much on deaf ears," Tognazzini said.

He opened the first Dockside restaurant on the Embarcadero in 2004 and the second in 2006. The smokehouse was his third location, which he opened in 2013. Since he started it, he's advocated to the city and the building's owners to keep the boat open for business past the five-year lease.

"I believe in waterfronts keeping character. I think the worst thing that can happen is tearing things down and making it look like every other port," he said.

Tognazzini signed the five-year lease with property owner Bob Fowler, he said, because it was important to have something successful in that building. He didn't want the boat next to his other businesses to be vacant.

"We were worried that it would go five years without a tenant, and that's just not healthy or good for business," he said.

A "pocket park" project that has been in the works since 2007 is slated to take the boat's place. Although Tognazzini's constant pleas to the city of Morro Bay and the property owner didn't save the building, the Historical Society of Morro Bay is taking a shot at preserving it.

Society President Glenn Silloway said that the organization is interested in the building's unique features and the opportunity to use the boat as the organization's home.

He said it would cost about $30,000 to move the building. The organization has until Oct. 15 to move the boat before it is demolished.

"It is a building that is iconic. Morro Bay residents have come to know it and it's been here for many years. I can tell you since this is starting to come to light, we've had contacts from lots of people who are interested in preserving it somehow," Silloway said.

Getting enough money in a short time period to move the facility isn't really the hard part, according to Silloway. Figuring out where to relocate the boat will be the challenge.

"We have to work with the city, with the Maritime Museum, the City Council, and the Commercial Fishermen's Organization. All these actors have to come together with a plan that makes sense," he said. "We don't want to cause conflict in Morro Bay over the issue." Δ

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