Monday, September 27, 2021

Long Beach may soon take the next step to move the Queen Mary to the Harbor Department

Long Beach may soon take another step toward transferring control of the Queen Mary and its surrounding 40 acres of parks, cruise terminals and parking lots to the Harbor Department, with the city council set to vote next week on how Will Work. .

The vote, scheduled for Tuesday night, September 14, will direct the city manager’s office to begin negotiations with the Harbor Department, which oversees the Port of Long Beach, to govern and control Pier H and the Queen Mary. According to a staff report, city employees will eventually have to provide details of how the property will be transferred and the city council will have to approve the terms.

Port of Long Beach spokeswoman Lee Peterson said she did not comment on Friday morning but would look into the issue after the vote on Tuesday.

The possible start of talks is the latest significant step in the city’s efforts in recent months to ensure that the famed Queen Mary remains a major tourist attraction since it first arrived at Long Beach in 1967.

The World War II-era ship had long been in need of repair, with a 2015 Marine Survey showing the total cost of repairs to the Queen Mary at $235 million to $289 million. A year later, the city entered into a 66-year lease agreement with Urban Commons Queensway to handle day-to-day operations.

But several inspections since then have raised questions about how much progress Urban Commons Queensway has made on that repair work. More recently, an April inspection found there were more than $23 million worth of “needing urgent repairs”.

Then, in June, Urban Commons Queensway, along with more than two dozen other related companies, surrendered its lease as part of an ongoing bankruptcy case filed by the operator earlier this year.

It returned control of the Queen Mary to Long Beach for the first time in more than 40 years.

But a month later, the city council learned that preserving the ship would cost tens of millions of dollars to bring it into shape and then $5 million annually – up to a total of $175 million over 25 years.

The city’s staff report lists the maintenance and long-term conservation of the Queen Mary, the management and budget and staff organization of the pier’s other tenants, all issues to be negotiated if council members vote yes.

Because of its experience overseeing port-related infrastructure, the city began to pass control back to the Harbor Department and the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners. The Harbor Department operated the Queen Mary and Pier H until 1993.

Members of the Port Commission are appointed by the mayor and even though the Port of Long Beach is technically part of the city, it operates largely as an independent entity.

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According to a staff report, details that must be worked out before the Harbor Department can acquire Pier H include:

  • An overall transition plan, which will include the organizational structure, proposed budget and other logistical concerns.
  • A transition plan for Pier H tenants, including Carnival Cruise Lines and Catalina Express.
  • Maintenance and improvement plans.
  • How to Reopen the Queen Mary Hotel and Event Space.

“This is an amazing opportunity for us to take control and make this pier a jewel in Long Beach,” councilwoman Cindy Allen said by phone Friday morning.

City council lady Cindy Allen, whose district includes Pier H, externally supported the city under the control of Queen Mary. And now, Allen said, he hopes the Department of Harbor can help Pier H and the Queen Mary make even better money for Long Beach.

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“This is an amazing opportunity for us to take control of this and watch this pier become a jewel in Long Beach,” Allen said by phone Friday morning, 10. “We will make sure she is well taken care of.”

But not everyone thinks the Queen Mary is worth saving.

John McLaurin, president of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, has long opposed keeping the Queen Mary.

In a letter sent to the city council ahead of Tuesday’s meeting, he urged panel members not to vote on the transfer – arguing that Queen Mary wastes money.

“The transfer of the Queen Mary (and we believe that the abandoned Russian submarine is rotting next to the Queen Mary) to the Harbor Department,” he wrote, “is simply the transfer of a failed city property from one department to another.”

McLaurin referred to the partially submerged B-427 “Scorpion” submarine next to the Queen Mary. It will cost lakhs to remove it.

The Queen Mary would be really expensive to maintain. But even so, the ship would have to be got rid of. The same analysis from July showed the Queen Mary’s cost of repairs, also said to have cost at least $100 million, no matter what option the city made – including deconstructing it.

Meanwhile, the Queen Mary and the land on which she sits also have great potential value.

In July, Allen said the ship traditionally brings in about 1.6 million visitors and $94 million in economic impact.

And a real estate appraisal from July estimated the 43-acre Pier H was worth about $77 million, with a market rental value of about $5 million annually, according to a staff report.

if you go

What: city ​​council meeting

When: Tuesday, September 14 at 5 p.m.

where: Civic Chambers, Long Beach City Hall

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Long Beach may soon take the next step to move the Queen Mary to the Harbor Department
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