Thursday, December 19, 2013

Marine Research Campus Planned for Port of LA

The Los Angeles City Council on Dec. 17 unanimously approved a 50-year lease to transform a 100-year-old pier on the LA waterfront into an urban marine research and innovation center dubbed AltaSea.

The lease agreement – signed between the Port of Los Angeles and the AltaSea project’s fiscal sponsor, the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors – involves about 35 acres of land and water at the port’s City Dock No. 1 site, Berths 56-60 and Berths 70-71.

The AltaSea site will be developed through a public-private partnership that includes the port, AltaSea and regional public and private universities. Funding commitments for the project’s first phase currently total $82 million, including $57 million in site-related capital investments by the port and a $25 million gift by the Annenberg Foundation. Phase 1 is currently estimated to cost $185 million with a 2018 completion goal.

For the first phase of the project – berths 56 and 57 – the port has agreed to make improvements to the wharf and subsurfaces to ready the property for development. AltaSea is responsible for upgrading the existing historic warehouse structures, as well as other improvements and facility operations.

“AltaSea is a game changer not only for the Los Angeles waterfront but for the entire region,” LA Harbor Commissioner Anthony Pirozzi remarked, saying that the project provides “a unique opportunity to diversify the job base along the Los Angeles waterfront” via a world-class marine research institute that that he predicted would become an “economic engine” for the region.

The AltaSea campus is planned to feature circulating seawater labs, offices, classrooms, lecture halls, support facilities, an interpretive center, a facility for marine-related commercial ventures, and development of a seawater wave tank for studying tsunamis and rogue waves.

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