Byline: Taylor Hill
SAN PEDRO — The Port of Los Angeles’ executive director had some positive news to report on the hunt for ideas for re-energizing San Pedro’s 30-acre waterfront Ports O’ Call area, informing the Harbor Commission at its Oct. 18 meeting that eight developers have submitted proposals for the project.
“We are very pleased with the number of responses,” said executive director Geraldine Knatz. “We received proposals from a variety of respected, experienced and well-financed firms that see great potential and possibility for this unique waterfront site.”
Between 15 and 20 firms ranging from local development companies to international corporations had expressed interest in the site at a meeting held this past summer, and eight of the companies have stayed on board.
The group of developers all met the port’s Oct. 5 Request for Qualifications, which the port staff is expected to review and determine which developer has the most experience and is best suited to take on a project of this magnitude.
A panel of five individuals will be formed to choose the best development firm, which will then be expected to make a proposal of their plan to the Harbor Commission by December.
Criteria set forth in the Request for Proposals included development strategy, vision for the parcel, experience in developing premiere and unique commercial real estate projects, as well as experience working with public agencies.
“At this point, we’re just starting to go through the proposals,” said Port of Los Angeles spokesman Philip Sanfield. “We won’t be releasing details until after the Harbor Commission decides to enter into an exclusive negotiating agreement with one (developer).”
Once the Harbor Commission approves, the developer will begin to work with the port on a potential lease and will also be reaching out to the community for input.
During the meeting, Harbor Commission chairwoman Cindy Miscikowski inquired about when the public will see the developer’s plans, and how much input the public will have.
“This project is not predetermined or defined other than by the San Pedro Waterfront Plan,” Knatz said. “So you will not have a completed, finished ‘this is what it will look like’ plan in December.”
Once the board gives their approval of the proposal, the public outreach and public comment period is expected to begin, when the specifics of the plan will begin to take shape.
“We don’t want the perception out there that this five-member panel determines the final outcome,” Miscikowski said.
Harbor Commissioner Dave Arian also spoke on the level of public input involved, but reminded the room that the project is not just local in scope, but national and international.
“On the local level, we have to have some input into the process, but at the same time, this is a city-wide, state-wide, international project. But there has to be that understanding.
The Ports O’ Call site has been on the port’s radar for redevelopment over the past few years, as the 1962-constructed outdoor public center is in need of a facelift.
The development site includes 3,000 linear feet of water frontage and 375,000 square feet of retail and tourism-related entitled uses. Located at the south end of the Harbor (I-110) Freeway, the site is conveniently accessible to downtown Los Angeles and other key areas of Southern California. Developers who responded to the RFQ include:
* Newport Beach-based Battaglia Inc., a theme park and entertainment design center run by Richard J. Battaglia, formerly a part of the management team at Disney. Previous projects include Marine World Africa, U.S.A. in Vallejo, Calif., the 1986 World’s Fair in Vancouver, Canada and Leotte World Adventure in Seoul, South Korea.
* Los Angeles-based Cal Coast Companies, which has designed master planned communities, and planned hotel, commercial real estate centers and more in the Los Angeles area.
* LA Waterfront Alliance was likely set up specifically to bid on the waterfront property, and includes participation from Ratkovich and the Victory Group, a San Pedro-based development company.
* Majestic Realty Co. based in City of Industry and owned by Ed Roski, provides a full range of development services from the initial land acquisition to ongoing property management. The group is also hoping to lure an NFL franchise to City of Industry.
* London-based McArthurGlen Group specializes in designer outlet mall experiences, creating shopping centers throughout Europe.
* Rising Realty Partners, based in Los Angeles, states it is a full-service real estate platform specializing in creating world-class commercial and industrial properties.
* Sonnenblick Development LLC; according to the website, the Los Angeles-based firm is a developer of office facilities for state, county and municipal public agencies throughout the nation.
* Strata Properties and TFO/TDD Partners, a Newport Beach-based company specializes in unique retail properties from large shopping centers to small strip malls.
Ports O’ Call is located just south of San Pedro’s historic downtown business and is within walking distance from the World Cruise Center. Other attractions within walking distance include the USS IOWA Battleship museum and CRAFTED at the Port of Los Angeles, a large-scale permanent indoor craft marketplace fashioned from two WWII warehouses by the developer of the popular Bergamot Station Arts Center in Santa Monica.
The proposed redevelopment site is in the immediate vicinity of several public waterfront enhancements, including a new downtown harbor and public plaza slated for completion in 2014.