- James Preston Allen
By James Preston Allen, Publisher
On March 6, the management offices of Ports O’ Call Restaurant received a letter of intent—a reprieve of sorts from the LA Waterfront Alliance. This happened three days after Port of Los Angeles communications director, Arley Baker, announced that the city filed nine unlawful detainers against the remaining tenants at Ports O’ Call, including Ports O’ Call Restaurant, in a social media post. And six days after Ports O’ Call celebrated the passing of the deadline they were supposed to receive an eviction notice with an all-day-happy hour.
A letter of intent doesn’t explicitly offer an interim lease, which the developers can’t actually offer at this point because they don’t have possession of the property. A letter of intent means little unless the port acts on the intent and offers one itself.
It has been rumored for several months that the San Pedro Public Market LLC (aka, LA Waterfront Alliance) were working on a “deal” to keep Ports O’ Call restaurant in the mix for the new waterfront plans.
But even as late as Jan. 11, when they gave a presentation to the Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners in front of a vocally hostile crowd, the developers were mute on Ports O’ Call Restaurant. It took a public records act request of the port by this newspaper to even get the port to divulge the actual new plans.
Even later it was confirmed by a source close to the commission that “no one at the Port was aware of or seen a LOI between the two parties.” Now, Wayne Ratkovich has expressed his interest in having Jayme Wilson, a principal in the restaurant and Spirit Cruises, as a tenant in one of the new spaces.
However, the spaces to which they were referring in the letter of intent are only “scheduled for occupancy in 2021.” What will happen to the restaurant and its employees in the interim?
It now appears that the port is set to evict one of the key tenants in the future development of the LA Waterfront while at the same time the developer is throwing them a life-line on the exact day the Spirit Cruise boats were forcibly removed from the docks at berth 77. Clearly a lack of coordination, like ships passing in the night.
Baker continued online by writing, “Some establishments will remain open. They have negotiated their deal with their future landlord.”
This apparently is in reference to the San Pedro Fish Market, Crusty Crab and LA Waterfront Cruises, who were previously excluded from the initial demolition plans. The port commented that these businesses were responsible for some $20 million a year in gross sales and the Fish Market ranked in the top ten in the entire country by revenue.
Still, it remains to be seen whether the latest correspondence between Milan Ratkovich of San Pedro Market Place LLC and Wilson will stay the wrecking ball from demolishing the iconic San Pedro waterfront edifice of Ports O’ Call Restaurant.
The other former tenants of the Village are planning a press conference on their legal grievances against the port on March 12 at the south end of Ports O’ Call Village. They are considering further legal action against the port, which seems to have anticipated potential litigation in its development time-line as the construction plan of the actual promenade isn’t scheduled until February 2019, according to Mike Galvin at Port of Los Angeles.
It might be too much to expect the POLA to have a surprise announcement regarding any of this at their March 20 town hall meeting.