Friday, December 12, 2014

Long Beach Officials Approve New Port HQ Plan

By Mark Edward Nero

A plan that could place the Port of Long Beach headquarters in the city’s downtown for the first time ever was approved this week by the Long Beach City Council and Harbor Commission.

After several months of public meetings, study and debate, the Long Beach City Council on Dec. 9 unanimously selected Plenary-Edgemoor Civic Partners to build a new Civic Center. In addition to a new port headquarters building, the project includes a new main library, park, City Hall and new housing, retail and a hotel.

The city has said that retrofitting the existing facilities is prohibitively expensive and would be impossible without finding new financing through bonds or taxes.

“Partnering with this team to build a new Civic Center is the right decision, and provides an opportunity to add residential development and other uses to the site, and to create a modern, sustainable project that will last for generations, without additional cost to our residents,” Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia said.

The port has been looking for a new home for years due to age-related problems with its former base of operations, located near the waterfront, south of downtown. In February, the port’s administrative staff of about 350 moved out of its 54-year-old, seven-story seismically deficient headquarters over to a 27-year-old, eight-story interim building located about a dozen miles inland.

On Dec. 8, the Long Beach Harbor Commission voted to participate in the nearly $358 million project. The approval means the city is authorized to begin negotiations on contract specifics with Plenary-Edgemoor.

“I want to thank our Harbor Department for partnering with us on this project,” Garcia said. “The port’s participation means savings for the city and greater efficiency from shared facilities. It also means our Civic Center – and downtown – will be that much more active thanks to their participation.”