Lease Approved for L.A. Marine Research Campus

Posted by Michelle Howard
Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved a 50-year lease to transform  a 100-year-old pier on the L.A. Waterfront in San Pedro into a world-class urban marine research and innovation center called AltaSea at the Port of Los Angeles. The lease agreement – signed between the Port of Los Angeles and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, the latter who currently serves as the fiscal sponsor for the AltaSea project – involves approximately 35 acres of land and water at the Port’s City Dock No. 1 site, Berths 56-60 and Berths 70-71. 

“Public-private partnerships like AltaSea represent an innovative way to encourage investment and redevelopment in our communities,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “This new world-class urban marine research campus is projected to generate thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in related economic benefits over the next decade.”

“AltaSea is a game changer not only for the Los Angeles Waterfront but for the entire region,” said Los Angeles Harbor Commissioner Anthony Pirozzi. "Our Port continues to focus on growth as the nation’s premier trade gateway. AltaSea provides a unique opportunity to diversify the job base along the Los Angeles Waterfront with a world-class marine research institute that will become another economic engine for our region.”

The AltaSea site will be developed through a public-private partnership that includes the Port, AltaSea and a host of regional public and private universities.  Funding commitments for Phase 1 of the project total $82 million to date, 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.

“We are sincerely grateful to the Port of Los Angeles for its support in helping bring the AltaSea vision closer to a reality,” said Marty Blank, a member of the volunteer AltaSea advisory cabinet. “AltaSea will not only benefit the communities of Southern California, but ultimately our greater human community through innovative research on the critical global marine and coastal issues of our time.”

The planned AltaSea campus will feature circulating sea-water labs, offices, classrooms, lecture halls, support facilities, an interpretive center, a facility for marine-related commercial ventures, and an opportunity to develop the world's largest seawater wave tank for studying tsunamis and rogue waves. The anchor tenant of Phase 1 will be the Southern California Marine Institute, a strategic alliance of 12 major universities in Southern California 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 represents another tremendous addition to the transformed Los Angeles Waterfront, while also creating jobs and spurring local economic growth,” said Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino, whose Council district includes the planned project. “Approval of this lease is a big step forwad in getting the project underway and ensuring AltaSea’s success.”

An economic impact study conducted by Kosmont Companies projects that AltaSea will generate more than 6,500 construction jobs, resulting in $1.17 billion of economic benefit. The study also found that the new marine research campus will also generate approximately 1,350 professional jobs, with an estimated economic benefit of more than $290 million.

The AltaSea public-private partnership represents an unprecedented collaboration among government, business, marine science, education and philanthropy for conducting targeted research on marine and ocean-related problems. Once complete, the campus will provide work environments for researchers and scientists from major colleges and universities, government agencies and industries to study critical problems facing urban oceans today – from climate change to rising sea levels, from food supply to freak weather patterns, to a host of other pressing issues. 

For the first phase of the project (Berth 56 and 57), the Port has agreed to make improvements to the wharf and subsurfaces to ready the property for development. AltaSea will be responsible for upgrading the existing historic warehouse structures, as well as other improvements and facility operations.

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