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Chula Vista residents have mixed reactions as bayfront project begins

Starting today some temporary and permanent road closures are in effect around Chula Vista Bayfront. KPBS reporter Jacob Aere says they’re due to the construction of public roads and infrastructure of the future Gaylord Pacific Resort and Convention Center.

The Chula Vista Bayfront is finally getting its long-promised redevelopment, with work beginning on the Gaylord Pacific Resort and Convention Center.

The billion-dollar project is expected to pump hundreds of millions each year into the local economy, and many in the region are glad to see it start.

“It'll infuse a lot of money into the community, and business and activity,” said Chula vista resident Joe Balistrieri, who said he’s been waiting on the project for decades.

“It's great that they're going to use the waterfront because it's just been laying here doing nothing forever,” he said.

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Jacob Aere
Construction equipment and machinery are behind a billboard that states "Transforming the future of the Chula Vista Bayfront," Aug. 22, 2022.

But others KPBS spoke with don’t share Balistrieri’s excitement. They worry about overcrowding and increased crime.

“It's going to be crowded ... for us it's going to be a huge problem because more people are going to be coming around,” said Tijuana resident Oscar Ochoa, who works as a security guard at the Chula Vista Marina.

Other residents pointed out that many of the new jobs from the project will be low-wage and that the redevelopment project will increase traffic and pollution in the area.

The construction is already causing a number of road closures near the bayfront. Those roads will likely stay closed for the time being as the project is expected to be completed in 2025.

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Jacob Aere
A Chula Vista resident fishes near the Marina, Aug. 22, 2022.

Jim O’Callaghan, CEO South County Economic Development Council, said short-term pain will translate to long-term gain.

Much of the area will ultimately have new paths for both cars and pedestrians, he said.

“You're going to have hundreds of acres of walkable space, it'll connect to the bikeway, giving ample opportunity for people to take advantage of fields they haven't been able to use in years,” O’Callaghan said. “Some of this was old sites that were for refineries, power plants, so now being able to take this back as public land is pretty incredible.”

On Tuesday at 5:30 pm, the Port of San Diego is hosting an event at the Bayside Pavilion focused on public art for the project’s Sweetwater Park.

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