Tuesday, November 8, 2011

New HQ for Long Beach Port Still Uncertain After Vote

For the second time in as many votes, the Long Beach harbor board has reached a stalemate on the issue of buying the Long Beach World Trade Center to use as the new headquarters for the Port of Long Beach.

During the board’s Nov. 7 business meeting, the board considered whether to extend the purchase contract period for the WTC beyond the Nov. 14 deadline, but the outcome was the same as when the board first considered the purchase on Oct. 10: a 2-2 tie.

Vice President Thomas Fields and commissioner Nick Sramek voted for the extension and commissioners Rich Dines and Doug Drummond against. The fifth member, President Susan Wise has recused herself from the issue because she and her husband both have office space in the building.

Fields and Sramek have said that the purchase is needed to expedite the exodus of the port’s 450-person staff from the current building, which was built in the 1950s and has been declared seismically deficient.

But Dines and Drummond have argued that the purchase price – $130 million – is too steep for the 27-story downtown building.

With the stalemate, the possibility of a purchase is essentially dead in the water.
The port had originally planned to internally fund and build a $220 million state-of-the-art headquarters within the harbor; however the idea was eventually shot down by Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster as too expensive. Since then, the port’s been looking to lease or purchase a nearby office building to house port staff.