Spending leisure time along the San Pedro waterfront is not exactly pleasurable, with barren patches of gated land, few restaurants and not even a public walkway for much of its span.
The most popular destination, the 47-year-old Ports O' Call Village, home to fish markets and small tchochkes shops, is blemished by chipped paint, termites and decaying roofs.
Now, a $1.2 billion redevelopment plan that will be considered next week by the Port of Los Angeles seeks to change all that.
This ambitious project includes the construction of an 8-mile promenade to downtown San Pedro, bike paths, parks, a pier and extension of the port's popular streetcar service. But that very ambition has engendered skepticism given how past plans have faltered.
"There's no doubt that San Pedro needs this project and that we want to have a world-class waterfront," said Jayme Wilson, who owns multiple businesses in the project's area, including the Ports O' Call Restaurant and Spirit Cruises boat tour. "But I think the biggest challenge will be the financing with trade down and getting businesses and developers to come in."
Port officials don't entirely disagree.
The Sept. 29 vote by the Board of Harbor Commissioners will be on the project's massive 8,456-page environmental report. And if the expected approval is not appealed to the City Council, the next step would be for the port to issue a request for proposals for specific projects, with the construction of the 8-mile promenade first in line.
Port Executive Director Geraldine Knatz said that with the project expected to take 10 to 15 years to complete, the port will have to work closely with developers to get it done.
The port has agreed to help fund the massive redevelopment, but with the sharp downturn in international trade, it has not committed to specific funding.
"We can't do this alone; there's no way. We need to look to the private sector," said Geraldine Knatz, the port's executive director. "However, we look at this project as a public service and not merely a way to shore up business. We know it's time to give the waterfront back to the public."
In the works
The San Pedro waterfront's best-known feature, aside from the port itself with its giant cranes and ships, has always been the Ports O' Call Village, a New England-themed tourist attraction.
The complex of restaurants and small shops selling candy and maritime souvenirs was once a hot local attraction, but it has been in disrepair for decades while the nearby waterfront has remained an industrial, no-pedestrian zone.
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