Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Port of LA Launches Urban Marine Research Center Project

Port of Los Angeles officials, LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, philanthropic leaders, marine scientists, students and community members were on hand June 17 for the official unveiling of a plan to transform a 100-year-old pier on the LA waterfront into a world-class urban marine research and innovation center.

At the event, officials announced that the 28-acre site currently known as City Dock No. 1 will be developed into the “AltaSea” urban marine center through a public-private partnership between the port, the non-profit Annenberg Foundation and a host of regional public and private universities.

The facility is planned to feature circulating sea-water labs, offices, classrooms, lecture halls, support facilities, an interpretive center, and the development of the world’s largest seawater wave tank for studying tsunamis and rogue waves.

“At the edge of the largest urban area in the western U.S., the AltaSea research campus is part of a grander vision for the Port of Los Angeles,” POLA Executive Director Geraldine Knatz said. “We will continue our growth and expansion as America’s leading trade gateway and at the same time facilitate some of the most innovative and collaborative marine research and solutions possible.”

About $57 million in funding commitments for the project’s first phase already have already been tallied, including $32 million in site-related capital investments by the Port of LA and a $25 million gift by the Annenberg Foundation to get the project underway. Phase 1 is currently estimated to cost $155 million, with a 2018 completion goal.

The anchor tenant of Phase 1 will be the Southern California Marine Institute, a strategic alliance of 11 major Southern California universities that have marine science academic and research programs.

The entire project cost is estimated at more than $500 million with completion over a 15- to 20-year timeframe.

“AltaSea will position the City of Los Angeles as the premier location for addressing ocean-related environmental issues that are not only important to Southern California, but to the world,” Villaraigosa said.

Regarding the planned facility’s name, Daniel Pondella, Director of the Southern California Marine Institute and Chair of Biology at Occidental College, explained its origin.

“From its Latin root, Alta means high, deep, noble and profound,” he said. “Our goal is to forge deep and profound partnerships on every level and engage the entire Los Angeles community – from government agencies to university researchers, to science educators and industry leaders – in marine research that will transform the future.”

Phase 1 is expected to create an estimated 1,087 construction jobs, according to the port, with Phase 2 providing an additional 4,161 construction jobs.