- Terelle Jerricks
By Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor
On July 9, an engaged couple who had booked an August wedding at Ports O’ Call restaurant pleaded with the court and port attorney’s for more time. After court marshals escorted the couple out, federal bankruptcy court Judge, Robert Kwan denied the restaurant’s request to stay at its present location, but requested that both sides come up with an orderly exit plan.
Kwan extended the existing temporary restraining order to 12:01 a.m. of July 11.
The attorney for the restaurant, David Haberbush, said an appeal would have to be filed quickly due to the expiring restraining order keeping the restaurant open four months beyond the eviction notice.
The restaurant sought to stay put until January 2019, arguing that it was the only hope to raise money necessary to pay off its debts owed in salaries and deposits for special event bookings.
According to the port’s testimony, plans for the San Pedro Public Market is 14 months behind schedule. The San Pedro Public Market is the venue set to replace Ports O’ Call Village.
The Ports O’ Call Restaurant is the only current tenant on the Los Angeles Waterfront to have a letter of intent to return and be part of the new development that won’t be open until at least 2021.
Talks are ongoing with five other possible transition sites in the meantime, Wilson said, but no deals have been struck.
His attorney described the additional six months being requested as a “bridge” to resolve both the bankruptcy and transition issues the landmark restaurant now faces.
Port witnesses testified that the restaurant’s deck sitting out over the water is needed to build new seating in the public market, the first piece of construction that is planned. However, the Port did not reveal to the court that the site next to the existing Fish Market has contaminated soils from a previous tenant Chevron Oil. This may have been a consideration in the change of the phasing of the project which was announced last year and came as a surprise to the Ports O’ Call management.
Other adjacent buildings under the lease that had been granted to Ports O’ Call Restaurant stand in the way of the planned promenade on the redeveloped site.
The port faces “significant” losses should the project be further delayed, said port Waterfront and Commercial Real Estate Director Michael Galvin, especially if it causes the developer to opt out under the lease agreement deadline provisions.
At this point the development team of Ratkovich/Jerico have not announced any nationally known tenants or whether they have funding to actually construct the new project. Some community members are concerned that the San Pedro Public Market will not get built even if the port is successful in evicting Ports O’ Call Restaurant.