Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Long Beach Port Staff Still Looking For A New Home

In a closed door session with Harbor Commissioners, Port of Long Beach officials on Monday discussed the possibility of moving the port's roughly 475-member staff from their 52-year-old administration building to one of several prominent downtown Long Beach office buildings.

Port officials, headed by executive director Richard Steinke, had previously discussed a move to the Long Beach World Trade Center, but other options now include the Union Bank Building and the City National Bank Building.

For nearly a decade, the port had been slowly moving forward with plans to build a $300 million state-of-the-art environmentally friendly showcase administration building on port property adjacent to the current administration building.

While the port planned to use no tax revenue or city funds for the new building, Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster last year vetoed funding for the new port building, questioning the wisdom of the semi-autonomous port authority constructing a new headquarters while his City Hall administration has struggled with city budgets racked by deficits and dwindling revenue streams.

Since the mayor's veto of the new port building, port officials have been looking at various locations throughout Long Beach that could be leased or purchased to serve as a replacement for the current six-story headquarters. Reports over the years have indicated that the current port building would not fare well in a major earthquake as it was built to late-1950s building codes and has not received seismic retrofits.

In addition, the port staff has grown by more than 100 positions in the past five years, severely pushing the capacity limits of the existing building and at times requiring temporary offices to be utilized.

The current seven-story port building, located in the port on a 10-acre parcel at the southern end of the Queensway Bridge, was completed in 1959 at a cost of just over $3 million.

The 27-story WTC, located just blocks north of the port, was opened in 1989. It is one of the premier office towers in the downtown Long Beach skyline and was heavily sponsored by port funds during construction. It was sold to current owner Legacy Partners in 2007 for $149 million.

The 14-story Union Bank Building, completed in 1976, is located just south of the WTC.
Also located just south of the WTC is the six-story City National Bank Building, which opened in 1982.

The port would require about 100,000 square feet of office space to match the current administration building.