Morro Bay’s Embarcadero is about to get an update.
A new building with a boutique hotel, bar, restaurants and retail shops will start construction on the street in 2020.
HarborWalk Plaza will be located at 833 Embarcadero, in the space that is currently home to Under the Sea Gallery.
Cherise Hansson, who has owned the ocean-themed gift shop for 21 years, and her husband, fourth-generation Morro Bay resident Travis Leage, are tearing down the structure and building a two-story building in its place.
The city of Morro Bay requested the building to be torn down for a complete remodel, Hansson said. The current structure needs to be reinforced from scratch, she said.
HarborWalk Plaza will be about 8,000 square feet — 1,000 square feet larger than the current structure — and 25 feet tall, Leage said.
Hansson said the new building will have a nautical look with wood and cables, as well as LEED certification and solar panels.
An eight-room boutique hotel will be located on the second story, Hansson said.
According to Hansson, the hotel will have a Mediterranean coastal motif with a teal, green and beige color scheme, as well as large decks and fireplaces. The hotel will be co-owned by Hansson and Leage.
A bar and a fast-casual food court, named Neptune’s Court, will also be in the building, Hansson said. The space will be subleased to three separate food vendors. The type of food is not finalized yet, but Hansson said there are tentative plans for pizza, sushi and fish and chips.
Hansson said she is looking for affordable, mom-and-pop food vendors to move in.
“I don’t want (HarborWalk Plaza) to become one of those spaces where big businesses come in, and then you change the whole dynamic of the city,” Hansson said. “I want it to have its own unique identity, not just cookie cutter.”
There will also be a bar, confectionery shop and space for retail stores including Under the Sea Gallery, Hansson said. The playground next to the building will be redone with mosaics and new equipment.
Until hotel construction begins in 2020, the bayside portion of the building, which used to be sushi restaurant Off the Hook, will function as Octopus’s Garden, an extension of Under the Sea Gallery.
During construction of HarborWalk Plaza, the gift shop will operate out of 725 Embarcadero in Morro Bay, Hansson said. Under the Sea Gallery also has locations in Avila Beach and Koloa, Hawaii, which will remain open, she said.
Once construction is complete, Under the Sea Gallery will move into HarborWalk Plaza — and 725 Embarcadero will become the home of Mermaid Boutique, another gift shop owned by Hansson.
Leage said construction for HarborWalk Plaza is expected to be completed in 2021, with businesses opening in 2022.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that construction is expected to be completed in 2023. The error has been corrected.