Queen Mary Gets an Island—in SoCal

Urban Commons is planning to invest $250 million into the new entertainment hub centered on the docked 1930s-era luxury ship.

Long Beach, Calif.—Less than one year after signing a 66-year master lease of the Queen Mary and waterfront acreage surrounding the historic ship in Long Beach, Calif., Urban Commons has released plans for the development of Queen Mary Island, a mixed-use entertainment project centered on the docked 1930s-era luxury liner. Urban Commons will invest $250 million to bring the Southern California project to fruition.

Queen Mary in Long Beach, Calif.
Queen Mary in Long Beach, Calif.

Real estate investment and development company Urban Commons tapped architectural firm Gensler to help interpret the vision for Queen Mary Island, which will pay homage to the nautical centerpiece’s history and British origins, while embracing the contemporary, urban environment. The project will essentially be a grand, 65-acre extension of an already noted destination. “The Queen Mary is the 15th most popular tourist attraction in the United States and our visitors have long included locals as well as international tourists,” Taylor Woods, principal at Urban Commons, told Commercial Property Executive. “We anticipate that the entertainment hub adjacent to the ship will be unlike anything else offered in Southern California and most likely the world with its dynamic mix of dining and retail offerings as well as the first Urban Adventure facility in the United States. Queen Mary Island will help further boost the appeal of our unique destination to a broad local, national and international audience.”

Queen Mary Island
Queen Mary Island

Accessible via land, water and air, Queen Mary Island will feature a 2,400-foot long boardwalk lined with shops, cafés, bars and a 200-key hotel, all leading to an outdoor amphitheater. And Great Britain’s presence will be felt beyond the former RMS Queen Mary, with the 150,000-square-foot Urban Adventure, an interactive and experiential activity facility to be developed in partnership with London-based Urban Legacies.  All told, Queen Mary Island will feature 700,000 square feet of retail offerings, but this development will be anything but an open-air mall; shops will account for only approximately 10 percent of the retail.

“The true focus will be creating a destination centered on live entertainment, great food, exciting venues and adventure activities where people of all ages will be compelled to spend an entire day or more exploring everything there is to offer,” Woods said. “You won’t find a shopping center in the traditional sense at Queen Mary Island, but a mix of cafes, bars and shops that will complement the overall entertainment experience we look forward to offering our guests and visitors.”

Urban Commons has been busy at work at the Queen Mary since assuming the master lease last year. The company commenced a $15 million renovation program aboard the ship, and joined the City of Long Beach to execute a deal with Carnival Cruise Lines to expand the Long Beach Cruise Terminal Facility. The expansion will allow for the accommodation of larger ships and additional space for two-way operations—a win-win for Carnival and Queen Mary Island.

Images courtesy of Allen Kennedy Photography (right) and Gensler (left)