The Port of Los Angeles has selected The LA Waterfront Alliance as the developer for the Ports O’ Call opportunity site, Executive Director Geraldine Knatz told the Harbor Commission at a special meeting on Dec. 20. This means that the Port will enter into an exclusive negotiating agreement, but it does not guarantee that the development will take place. If the process falls apart for whatever reason, the Port would return to the remaining pool of six other developers to select a second option, Knatz explained.
While some also-rans seemed to hold promise, the rejected proposals included two that clearly did not: One for an outlet mall, and another focused on a dozen chain restaurants. Both would ignore and erase the culture and history of San Pedro, in direct violation of the spirit of the Urban Land Institute study on Ports O’ Call redevelopment, which to its credit, Port staff brought to the attention of all the developers.
The Waterfront Alliance is a partnership between developer Wayne Ratkovich’s Los Angeles based Ratkovich Company, which has done major large-scale projects and San Pedro-based Jerico Development company, which has specializes in smaller-scale adaptive reuse of fully restored, historic commercial properties in San Pedro and Long Beach, such as the Brown Brothers Building on 6th Street. Knatz gave brief descriptions of all seven firms that completed the request for proposal process, and it was obvious that several were not well-suited, or even legally appropriate, given the Tidelands Trust Doctrine, which limits the kinds of development that can occur on public tidelands property. In fact, the selected proposal will have to be modified to conform.
“Their vision includes restaurants, visitor servicing retail, a boutique hotel and conference center, a market square, residential uses and the relocation of the Port’s administrative offices adjacent to or within the Ports O’ Call site,” Knatz said in her summary. “The vision also included a gateway at 13th Street to link the waterfront with the community,” she added.
“And while the vision includes a residential element which would not be permitted under the trust, the development team pledged to work closely with the Port and the community to create a development that is trust compliant and financially feasible,” Knatz explained.
“Their vision also embraces recommendations from the ULI study on Ports O’ Call, including retaining the fish market, because it represents the local flavor of San Pedro, and linking the development to the community and downtown San Pedro,” she added.
In her comments, Commission President Cindy Miscikowski stressed the importance of the public outreach process, calling it “the most important thing,” adding that the final proposal should only come back to the board with “considerable consideration and input from the public.” Random Lengths will be reporting on initial community responses in our next issue.