L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa and Port of L.A. Announce Urban Marine Research Center Project

Jun 18, 2013

SAN PEDRO, Calif. – June 17, 2013 – Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, joined by Port of Los Angeles officials, philanthropic leaders, marine scientists, students and community members, today outlined a bold vision to transform City Dock No. 1, a 100-year-old pier on the LA Waterfront in San Pedro, into a world-class urban marine research and innovation center.

Officials announced that the 28-acre site will be called AltaSea and will be developed through a public-private partnership between the Port, a non-profit organization, and a host of regional public and private universities. Funding commitments for Phase 1 of the project already tally $57 million, including $32 million in site-related capital investments by the Port of Los Angeles and a $25 million gift by the Annenberg Foundation to get the project underway.  Phase 1 is currently estimated to cost $155 million with a 2018 completion goal.

The facility will feature circulating sea-water labs, offices, classrooms, lecture halls, support facilities, an interpretive center, 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 11 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 will position the City of Los Angeles as the premier location for addressing ocean-related environmental issues that are not only important to Southern California, but to the world,” said Mayor Villaraigosa. “This public-private partnership will create jobs, draw new industries to the City, provide tremendous educational opportunities, and enhance the overall quality of life in Los Angeles.”

“Our oceans and waterways are among our most precious natural resources,” said Wallis Annenberg. “The Annenberg Foundation is pleased to provide initial funding for the innovative AltaSea marine research campus which will develop global solutions that will benefit generations to come.  We champion collaborative projects such as AltaSea and eagerly anticipate the impact this private-public partnership will have.” 

 “At the edge of the largest urban area in the western U.S., the AltaSea research campus is part of a grander vision for the Port of Los Angeles,” said Port Executive Director Geraldine Knatz, Ph.D. “We will continue our growth and expansion as America’s leading trade gateway and at the same time facilitate some of the most innovative and collaborative marine research and solutions possible.”

“From its Latin root, Alta means high, deep, noble and profound,” explained Dr. Daniel Pondella, Director of the Southern California Marine Institute and Chair of Biology at Occidental College. “Our goal is to forge deep and profound partnerships on every level and engage the entire Los Angeles community – from government agencies to university researchers, to science educators and industry leaders – in marine research that will transform the future.”

Phase 1 of the project will create an estimated 1,087  construction jobs, with Phase 2 providing an additional 4,161 construction jobs.  For every $1 million invested in research at AltaSea, an average of 9 direct jobs are estimated to be created.  For every $1 invested in education, an estimated $5.43 is generated for the state economy.

City and Port officials today also acknowledged the members of an AltaSea Advisory Cabinet created earlier this year.  The Cabinet is providing guidance as lease terms are being negotiated, a President & CEO recruitment is underway, and the creation of the AltaSea non-profit 501(c)(3) and its board of directors are formalized in the coming months.  AltaSea is currently a project of the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, a nonprofit philanthropic services firm that advises on and manages more than $280 million in annual giving.

AltaSea Advisory Cabinet members include Wallis Annenberg, chairman and CEO of the Annenberg Foundation; Leonard Aube, executive director of the Annenberg Foundation; Martin H. Blank Jr., attorney and COO of the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation; Austin Beutner, former Los Angeles deputy mayor and chairman of the board of CalArts; Lynda Boone Fetter, principal/manager of the real estate development firm Boone Fetter LLC; Anne Earhart, founder and president of the Marisla Foundation; Brad Jones, founding partner of Redpoint Ventures; Russ Lesser, president of Body Glove; Joan A. Payden, president and CEO of the global investment management firm Payden & Rygel; Dr. Daniel J. Pondella, associate professor of biology, department chair at Occidental College and Director of the Southern California Marine Institute; and Camilla Townsend, executive director of the Maxwell H. Gluck Foundation.

The proposed 28-acre AltaSea campus will be located along 4,100 linear feet of Port of Los Angeles waterfront dock and wharf space with direct harbor and ocean access.  Last October, the Los Angeles Harbor Commission certified the final Environmental Impact Report for the project.

The waterfront site features multiple deep-draft berths to accommodate large research vessels.  It will offer more than 200,000 square feet of available clear span adaptable research and development space for co-location of marine scientists, researchers, educators and industry entrepreneurs.

Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.

The Port of Los Angeles is America’s premier port and has a strong commitment to developing innovative strategic and sustainable operations that benefit the economy as well as the quality of life for the region and the nation it serves. As the leading seaport in North America in terms of shipping container volume and cargo value, the Port generates more than 830,000 regional jobs and $35 billion in annual wages and tax revenues.

Please consider registering in order to access the full article.