Port of Los Angeles Floats RFQ for 30-Acre Site

It's the leading trade gateway in the United States, and it's being transformed to attract more than just cargo. The Port of Los Angeles' $1.2 billion, three-year improvement effort is now primed to go to the next level.

It’s the leading trade gateway in the United States, and it’s being transformed to attract more than just cargo. The Port of Los Angeles’ $1.2 billion, three-year improvement effort is now primed to go to the next level with the issuance of a Request for Qualifications for the redevelopment of a 30-acre waterfront site at the Ports O’ Call Village in San Pedro, Calif.

“We already have the nation’s busiest container port, and it’s such a unique waterfront and our goal is to bring people down to see it,” Phillip Sanfield, director of media relations for POLA, told CPE.

With 3,000 linear feet of water frontage, the Ports O’ Call  site, which saw its first developments sprout up in the 1960s, is currently home to 175,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space occupied under leases that will come to an end at the close of 2014.  Owned by the Harbor Department of the city of Los Angeles, the property is entitled for the development of 375,000 square feet of retail and tourism-related space, as well as structured parking.

The entire area surrounding Ports O’ Call is undergoing a renaissance. The site is just a few blocks from downtown San Pedro and such new attractions as the recently welcomed USS IOWA Battleship Museum and the new CRAFTED at the Port Los Angeles, a crafts marketplace that was created from 1940s-era warehouses.

The billion-dollar rebirth of the Port of Los Angeles is being viewed in a positive light in the financial world. In May, Fitch Ratings affirmed approximately $840 million in outstanding revenue bonds for the Harbor Department at “AA.”

A handful of additional projects in the vicinity of Ports O’ Call  are currently in the works, including the $36 million Downtown Harbor promenade and public plaza and the $130 million Cabrillo Way Marina and promenade, to name a few.

“One of the things we’re doing is building infrastructure that helps connect the downtown business district to the waterfront and to Ports O’ Call,” noted Sanfield. He pointed to residential options with lofts that have been built in the past few years, drawing younger people, and other revitalization efforts. “It’s kind of a critical mass that we’ve been developing over the last few years, and it’s starting to emerge here.”

Interested developers have through Sept. 21 to respond to the RFQ. POLA expects that by the end of 2012 it will enter into an exclusive negotiating agreement with the selected developer for a ground lease that could span as much as 50 years under the initial term. “It’s just a great opportunity and it’s really an open palette right now in terms of what we’re looking for,” Sanfield said. “We’re asking developers, with the synergies and with the things we’ve got down here, what would work in this market. We’re optimistic we’ll get a lot of good ideas.”