San Pedro’s sleepy waterfront is slated for a reboot that will add shops, eateries and a trolley car as part of a $100 million renovation from downtown L.A. developer Ratkovich Co.

The upgrades to Ports O’ Call Village, built in the 1960s, are slated to come after some two decades of debate on how to revitalize the area.

The 30-acre zone is mostly a flat parking lot, with a cluster of New England-style trinket shops and seafood eateries attracting weekend patrons for shrimp fajitas and beer.

Ratkovich President Wayne Ratkovich said he envisions creating a lively scene similar to San Francisco’s Ferry Building and Boston’s Faneuil Hall that will attract South Bay residents, cruise ship visitors and other tourists.

His company, in partnership with San Pedro property management firm Jerico Development, plans to lease the site from the Port of Los Angeles for 50 years, adding about 150,000 square feet of buildings on 16 acres. The lease has yet to be finalized, and the Los Angeles City Council and Harbor Commission must sign off, but city officials said they expect plans to sail ahead.

Mayor Eric Garcetti has high hopes that the project, slated to open by early 2020 under the name San Pedro Public Market, will boost development across San Pedro.

“There’s no question there’s a spillover effect,” he told the Business Journal, predicting visible changes in the next three to five years. “I have a lot of faith in this.”

Councilman Joe Buscaino said the development could put San Pedro on the map for other developers, ideally attracting technology companies priced out of hot neighborhoods like Venice and Playa Vista.

“We’re anxious to bring more investment dollars to the San Pedro area,” said Buscaino, whose district includes San Pedro. “Prosperity begins at the waterline.”

The renovation comes as the port upgrades waterfront walkways and plazas as part of a plan to spend $400 million on infrastructure in the next decade. The port, among the busiest in the country, has already invested $600 million since 2004.

Making Moves

Houman Mahboubi is a Beverly Hills Realtor with an international outlook.

The opportunity to create connections across continents propelled his recent move from BRC Advisors in Beverly Hills to giant brokerage Jones Lang LaSalle, where he is now a senior vice president working in the Century City office.

“The work that I do is much more global now than ever,” said Mahboubi, who spoke to the Business Journal from Dubai having gone straight there after a business trip to Shanghai.

Jones Lang LaSalle, with operations in more than 80 countries, is a perfect platform to access bigger and better projects, he added. And his local specialty is a potent calling card.

“Beverly Hills is a name recognized all over the world,” Mahboubi said. “There’s always demand and not enough supply of actual space.”

He has been working in Beverly Hills real estate since 1994, apart from a brief detour into film financing. Over the years, he built relationships that he considers essential to his success, guided by the philosophy: We’re not in the rocket science business; we’re in the people business.

Mahboubi said his involvement in various Beverly Hills civic organizations, such as the Rotary Club and Chamber of Commerce, has helped boost his local reputation.

He will now bring his expertise to JLL at a time when rents on Rodeo Drive are fetching up to $100 a square foot a month.

He predicts the city’s rents will increase by at least 5 percent a year given the healthy economy. Some companies are deciding to buy on the iconic street, such as Chanel, which spent a record $152 million in December for its retail space.

Mahboubi sees the move as a smart investment, saying, “Being on Rodeo Drive is ultimately a must for those types of brands.”

Rising Up

The Wilshire Grand in downtown tops off its concrete and steel core on Tuesday, shooting the tower 826 feet into the sky. It will hit just shy of 1,100 feet when a stainless-steel spire is placed on top in September.

The $1 billion project from developer Korean Air is now 60 percent complete and set to open in March of next year, said spokeswoman Laura Walsh.

With El Nino’s meager showers, the construction crew has only had to take a dozen rain days out of 40 that have been allocated, she added.

The spire will vault the skyscraper 81 feet higher than the nearby U.S. Bank Tower, currently the tallest building west of the Mississippi.

Not willing to lose ground high in the air, the U.S. Bank Tower’s owner, OUE Ltd. of Singapore, recently unveiled plans for a 1,000-foot glass slide looping outside the building that will offer visitors a ride from the 70th to 69th floors for $8 a trip.

Staff reporter Daina Beth Solomon can be reached at dsolomon@labusinessjournal.com or (323) 549-5262, ext. 263.

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