SAN PEDRO—Following more than two years of construction, officials from the port community unveiled the Downtown Harbor and Town Square June 20 at a public opening.
The 1.2 acre project, brimming with boardwalk space, a bustling plaza, water cuts and a paved gathering spot, transformed what once was a parking lot into a $32 million visitor destination.
“It’s very exciting,” said Jill Shimamoto, the port’s construction manager. “Of all the projects that were planned for the waterfront, the community wanted this one. This is considered the heart of downtown. It really ties in downtown San Pedro to the water.”
The grand opening included a performance by surf band The Riptide, who played a set on a barge offshore, and city councilman Joe Buscaino, provided a public address. Rachel Campbell, the port’s media relations manager, said the estimated attendance for the grand opening was 2,500 people.
Shimamoto said the ultimate goal of the project is to bring visitors closer to the water and connect the downtown district to the waterfront.
“The L.A. Waterfront is happening,” said Gary Lee Moore, interim executive director of the Port of Los Angeles. “We are really trying to make that connection with all of the local communities to come down, visit this area and enjoy the waterfront as a new destination.”
Tucked between the Los Angeles Maritime Museum to the south and Fire Station 112 to the north, the town square features a pedestrian promenade, trees and landscaping, decorative lighting, a picnic area and an overlook pier. The district will likely be the site for downtown concerts, festivals and holiday gatherings. The plaza area, according to Jonathan Cuevas, the project manager for the port, can hold up to 5,000 people for an open concert style event.
Visitors will also benefit from direct access to the Maritime Museum, which had been interrupted during much of the construction process. Improved parking will assist those looking to visit the Battleship USS Iowa.
“As part of this project, we also created a pedestrian path from the Harbor Boulevard Parkway to the Iowa,” Shimamoto said. “Prior to that, it was only accessible driving through the terminal parking lot. There wasn’t a safe way for people to walk and just come down here for the day. Now you can just walk to the Iowa, buy a ticket and go visit it.”
Also constructed was wooden recreational dock space where boaters can dock for free in seven different spaces daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. on a first-come, first-served basis. Approximately 17 40-foot boats can dock in the area.
Vessel size is limited to 100 feet and and the four-hour limit is on a 24-hour basis. Shimamoto added that the dock also provides water and electricity to boaters.
“It’s making this whole San Pedro area accessible not only by driving … but now you can access it by boat,” Shimamoto said. “So if the Wilmington boaters want to come down from the Wilmington marinas, they can just spend the day.”
Initially proposed in 2003, the project is part of San Pedro’s larger plan to redevelop an 8-mile-long stretch of land on the waterfront.