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San Pedro looks for developer to make over Ports O’Call

July 26, 2012 |  3:57 pm

San Pedro Ports O Call
Officials in San Pedro sent out a casting call Thursday for developers to make over the aging Ports O'Call Village.

They hope a developer can turn the 30-acre waterfront property into a "retail focal point," where visitors can eat and shop after taking in the recently berthed battleship Iowa and the newly opened Crafted at the Port of Los Angeles.

City Councilman Joe Buscaino addressed a small crowd of media, residents and local business owners, calling the renovation "long overdue."

"The redevelopment opportunity of the century is waiting on the waterfront, at the heart of the Pacific Rim," he said as a red and white fireboat sailed by.

Ports O'Call Village is a quaint New England-style fish market filled with tiny trinket shops and a few restaurants. In its heyday, it attracted one million visitors annually.

Today, the shops mostly sit empty on the weekdays but still boast a bustling crowd on the weekends, where locals flock to Ports O'Call Village for fresh seafood.

Officials have been trying to spruce up the Port of Los Angeles in recent years by adding parks, trails, and fountains along the water's edge. The addition of the USS Iowa and Crafted, an indoor crafts market, arrived last month with the hopes of driving visitors down to region.

"It's about commerce not for the sake of making money but for putting people back to work and putting smiles on their faces," said Betsy Cheek, president of the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce.

The entire project is expected to take decades to complete, and slated to cost $1.2 billion, $300 million of which from a private developer will be used to give Ports O'Call Village a facelift.

But not everybody is thrilled with the makeover. Some business owners worry their establishments might be in jeopardy. At the news conference, officials were vague about the future of the existing tenants.

Wyatt Wilson and his family owns two restaurants and the 15 to 20 trinket shops in the Ports O'Call Village. While he thinks the community will benefit from the redevelopment, he worries that developers will demolish everything, including the restaurants that have been there since 1961, and start from scrap.

"You can't come in here and tear down all this history," he said.


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Photo: San Pedro officials are looking for a developer for Ports O'Call Village. Credit: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times