For all its charm, San Pedro’s Ports O’ Call Village had one disadvantage.
The quaint shop buildings sat right up next to the waterfront.
San Pedro’s new development, West Harbor, will feature the opposite — wide open walkways, benches and floating docks will make the actual waterfront newly accessible to visitors.
“I don’t think people realize truly what’s coming,” said Los Angeles Harbor Commissioner Anthony Pirozzi. “It’s open, it’s refreshing, you can walk form one end to the other without losing sight of the water. There will be more open space for outdoor dining.”
The massive infrastructure work port crews have been creating throughout 2020 — a 30-foot wide promenade along the water’s edge and a town square providing wide-open views of the water and the massive cargo ships coming and going — will bring a major change, Pirozzi said.
Not readily visible to most, port crews have been making rapid progress on a vast network of infrastructure throughout 2020 that will lay the foundation for the new development, West Harbor, set to begin construction in 2021 and open in 2022.
“It’s a massive project,” said Michael Galvin, director of waterfront and commercial real estate for the port. “The overall project area is 40 acres and we’re all over it. It’s going to be a huge change, it will look very different.”
While the progress isn’t readily visible to the community, it already has created a stunning change. A floating dock will be one of the additions.
“We are full throttle down there,” Pirozzi said. “It’s very impressive.”
It’s been 11 years since the Port of Los Angeles approved building a new waterfront to replace the aging Ports O’ Call Development, a quaint fishing-village themed center that saw a long run of popularity from the 1960s through the 1980s before it began to decline.
No one thought it would — or should have — taken so long.
But it was, in a word, complicated.
“These developments are difficult,” Galvin said.
Built on public land by private developers, the projects are under numerous regulatory agencies and need political support.
Under Port Executive Director Gene Seroka, Galvin said, the project has moved more quickly.
The port, with a primary focus on cargo, had to go through a sea change to develop a community waterfront “side” in its business expertise.
“Things have changed at the port,” Galvin said.
The 2020 pandemic, though, pushed the original groundbreaking back by about a year, to 2021.
“The pandemic definitely caused a big pause for all developers,” Galvin said.
“It took too long, but it’ll be worth the wait,” Galvin said.
The development already included generous outdoor dining and entertainment spaces, including a 6,200-seat amphitheater.
Taking a cue from some of the changes brought on by the pandemic, more outdoor space will now be incorporated.
Now, the project is in a better position to move forward with leases for such big-name dining options as Gladstone’s envisioned as one of the development’s anchors.
Pirozzi said he’s aware that there is still considerable skepticism about the project among the San Pedro community. Many miss Ports O’ Call and say it was a mistake to tear it down.
There have been other criticisms about the new development’s name and its architecture.
But Pirozzi is persuaded that once it starts to take shape, opinions will quickly change.
“Everything goes through changes in time,” he said.
While many locals talk about all the memories they have from Ports O’ Call, Pirozzi said, the new development will create memories for “the next generation.”