Posted October 8, 2019
In this October 2015 photo, a Royal Caribbean ship is shown at Berth 46 in the Outer Harbor which has been used for overflow traffic on heavy cruise ship days. A new deep-water terminal is now being sought for that area. A cruise ship is shown docked at the Outer Harbor in San Pedro where development a new deep-water cruise terminal is being proposed. The new terminal is needed to accommodate the much larger cruise ships now coming online, according to the Port of Los Angeles. The port’s existing cruise terminal located in the commercial shipping channel near the Vincent Thomas Bridge would remain in use for smaller cruise vessels.
Heralding an upcoming search for a developer, the Port of Los Angeles has issued a public “heads up” for the creation of a new deep-water cruise terminal in San Pedro’s Outer Harbor.
A formal request for proposals aimed at cruise lines, terminal operators and real estate developers will go out later this fall with a selection possible in the first half of 2020. Berths 46 and 50 in the Outer Harbor, along with a 13-acre land footprint have been identified as the docking and terminal site. Construction could take between three to five years.
The port’s existing cruise terminal, at Berths 91-93 near the Vincent Thomas Bridge, would continue to operate, possibly under the same new developer who is chosen for the Outer Harbor.
Port officials, who initially announced the latest plan was in the works about a year ago, say the new terminal is needed to accommodate the much larger cruise ships now coming online.
The new terminal facilities — to be developed at 3011 Miner Street, at Berth 46 near the S.S. Lane Victory — would have to handle ships that are longer than 1,100 feet and carry more than 5,000 passengers.
And that could be just the beginning.
A brochure aimed at potential developers states that there would be room to expand operations for even larger ships expected to be deployed in the future.
In time, and depending on the cruise lines, it could bring more possibilities for different kinds of cruises, said Michael Galvin, the port’s director of Waterfront and Commercial Real Estate.
Currently, cruises offer Mexico trips in the winter and transitional Alaska trips in the summer, requiring passengers to pick up another ship at West Coast ports north of San Pedro. Larger ships could end up offering more direct Alaska trips and offerings to new locations in Mexico, Galvin said.
A decade ago, the port’s proposal for an additional Outer Harbor cruise terminal drew some significant blowback. Obstructed water views, including those from Cabrillo Beach, security-zone impacts on boating traffic coming and going from the adjacent marina and street traffic congestion topped the list of objections back then.
The area already is used for docking the larger cruise ships and as an overflow slot for ships coming in when the regular terminal is filled.
But talk of a new permanent terminal went quiet after the first proposals and the landslide area at the Outer Harbor since then has been used as a rotating venue for several public events, including a 2013 Cirque du Soleil production and, for several years running, the Red Bull Global Rallycross car races.
Port officials have always viewed the spot as ideal for a future cruise terminal that they believe is needed to ramp up the area’s cruise industry reputation.
So far, the latest renewed proposal for a cruise terminal hasn’t drawn much public discussion within the community, said Richard Havenick, a board member of the Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council.
“I think people don’t know about it,” he said, adding, however, that the port had been forthright in publicly stating an Outer Harbor terminal was still being considered.
“No one has any excuse to be surprised,” Havenick said.
But he said he wants to make sure those who may still have concerns will be heard this time around as well.
Doug Epperhart, president of the Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council, said the item will come before that body for discussion as more specific details are released.
“There hasn’t been a lot of talk about it and there hasn’t been a lot of publicity,” Epperhart said.
That also could be due to the whirlwind of other development plans now in the works compared to the climate 10 years ago.
“It’s a different time, I think,” Epperhart said. “Without seeing a lot of the details, it’s hard to know what’s going to happen. But I think with the development of AltaSea and the marina and the San Pedro Public Market — the revamping of everything — there is a different feel now.”
The new terminal would provide for two cruise berths and landslide terminal facilities, on- and off-site parking “and other amenities,” according to the announcement of the new development opportunity issued by the port on Friday, Sept. 27.
The area also would be available, the announcement states, for other uses when no cruise ships are in port and during the off-season. Those alternative uses could include filming, conferences, events and other “agreed-upon” activities, according to the notice.
A brochure hails the area as a “prime location for expansion of West Coast cruise travel.”
“With unique panoramic views of the coastline and Catalina Island, two existing wharves, approximately 13 acres of land, deep water, and a large cruise customer base, the port believes this location is an ideal site to create a new state-of-the-art cruise terminal,” reads the brochure aimed at developers.
In an interview in mid-August, Galvin said the proposal already was drawing interest among some major cruise lines. Now that the initial announcement is out, he said, more have been calling. There have been some 2,000 downloads of the announcement online, he added, noting that many of those could also be related to the overall development going on along San Pedro’s waterfront.
Among questions Epperhart said he will have is whether the area will be open to public access on non-cruise or non-event days.
“I don’t want it to end up being a site where a cruise ship comes in one or two times a week and the rest of the time the area remains locked up,” he said. “That is a prime area on the waterfront that should be open and available for people.”