Urban Commons Lands Queen Mary Lease in Long Beach, Preps for Project

Urban Commons LLC has signed a 66-year lease of the retired ship, with plans to renovate the vessel and develop 45 acres of surrounding land.

By Barbra Murray, Contributing Editor

Queen Mary in Long Beach, CA, Courtesy of Allen Kennedy Photography (PRNewsFoto/Urban Commons)
Queen Mary in Long Beach, Calif.

Los Angeles—Ship ahoy! Major changes are in store for the Queen Mary in Long Beach, Calif., now that Urban Commons has signed a 66-year master lease of the retired cruise ship. The real estate development and investment firm will renovate the preeminent vessel and develop 45 acres of surrounding land, working with the City to create a lively new retail and entertainment district at a cost of $250 million.

Launched in 1936 from England by what was then known as the Cunard White Star Line, the Queen Mary made her final voyage in 1967, claiming approximately 20 acres of water area at her final destination in Long Beach. “The Queen Mary is clearly a deeply admired and respected icon in Long Beach. We saw this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to restore the Queen to her glory days and help shape the future of a true storied landmark,” Taylor Woods, principal with Urban Commons, told Commercial Property Executive.

Urban Commons assumed the lease of the City-owned ship from previous holder Garrison Investment Group LLC, which joined Long Beach officials in the careful selection and vetting of the new lessee. Garrison left the Queen Mary in good shape, having invested roughly $13 million in capital improvements to the ocean liner and its premier Queen Mary Hotel, which features 355 original staterooms and suites, since taking control of the lease in 2009.

Under Urban Commons’ stewardship, the Queen Mary project will be implemented in phases over the next several years, beginning with interior renovations of the ship straightaway. The popular attraction will remain open to visitors during this first phase of the endeavor, which is scheduled to reach completion in mid-2017. With the second phase, the surrounding oceanfront acreage will sprout as much as 400,000 square feet of retail, dining and entertainment offerings.

“We believe there is an existing demand for this type of entertainment destination,” Woods said. “Our vision is to deliver an experience unlike anything that’s currently offered around the globe – a place where visitors can spend an entire day or even a weekend. We are confident that this will be a major attraction for locals and tourists alike.”

In addition to its partnership with the City, Urban Commons will work with the Queen Mary Land Development Task Force and the greater community on the construction plan, and team with Carnival Cruise Line to modernize the existing terminal.

Image courtesy of Allen Kennedy Photography