Hidden by construction fences, San Pedro’s new waterfront is taking shape

The waterfront will be the highlight of the West Harbor development at the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro. Port crews have been working on the 42-acre site throughout the pandemic and much of the stage is set for the building construction, set to begin in early 2022. (Photo by Chuck Bennett, Contributing Photographer)

Landscaping and a long section of the 30-foot-wide promenade, which runs next to the water of the Main Channel, are among features added over the past year and a half by Port of Los Angeles crews. The new West Harbor development is set to open to the public in late 2023. (Photo by Chuck Bennett, Contributing Photographer)

California native plants and trees have been planted along the waterside promenade that will be a key element of the coming West Harbor attraction in San Pedro. (Photo by Chuck Bennett, Contributing Photographer)

Much of the infrastructure, including the waterfront promenade and landscaping, has been provided by Port of Los Angeles crews throughout the pandemic months. (Photo by Chuck Bennett, Contributing Photographer)

Eric Johnson of Jerico Development in San Pedro talks about the future of the West Harbor waterfront development that will be constructed where the old Ports O’ Call Village once stood. (Photo by Chuck Bennett, Contributing Photographer)

The water will be the star attraction at West Harbor, the new waterfront development expected to open in late 2023 along the Main Channel at the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro. Plans were designed to highlight water views and access with a 30-foot-wide promenade running alongside the channel and buildings that will feature large expanses of glass and generous outdoor patios for dining. (Photo by Chuck Bennett, Contributing Photographer)

Obscured by a construction fence, motorists on Harbor Boulevard don’t see the progress being made on West Harbor, the long-awaited waterfront attraction in San Pedro. Much of the water-side promenade, landscaping, benches and lighting are in place and await building construction set to begin in early 2022. (Photo by Chuck Bennett, Contributing Photographer)

Visitors will never be far from the water at West Harbor, the new waterfront attraction being developed in San Pedro. (Photo by Chuck Bennett, Contributing Photographer)

Designers focused on making the water the central theme in the West Harbor waterfront development in San Pedro. (Photo by Chuck Bennett, Contributing Photographer)

Significant progress was made over the past year and a half as Port of Los Angeles crews completed much of the infrastructure, including sections of the waterfront promenade, landscaping and lighting. (Photo by Chuck Bennett, Contributing Photographer)

Much of the groundwork has been laid for construction of West Harbor, the new waterfront attraction along the Main Channel in San Pedro. (Photo by Chuck Bennett, Contributing Photographer)

Benches await visitors to the West Harbor waterfront attraction in San Pedro, set to open to the public in late 2023. Like many plans, the waterfront saw some delays after the coronavirus pandemic struck in March 2020, but Port of L.A. crews continued work on much of the infrastructure during that time. (Photo by Chuck Bennett, Contributing Photographer)

Attention to detail with nautical themes and materials highlight the new West Harbor waterfront attraction in San Pedro. (Photo by Chuck Bennett, Contributing Photographer)

The twin brigantine tall ships can be seen along what is the waterfront promenade taking shape on San Pedro’s new waterfront attraction, West Harbor. (Photo by Chuck Bennett, Contributing Photographer)

Detailed paving add interest to the waterfront promenade which serves as the touchstone element in West Harbor, San Pedro’s new waterfront attraction scheduled to open in late 2023. (Photo by Chuck Bennett, Contributing Photographer)

Rendering of the Poppy + Rose restaurant at West Harbor, San Pedro’s planned waterfront development. (Courtesy rendering by Studio One Eleven)

An aerial view of Phase 1 of the San Pedro promenade and town square shows how it will connect with the new waterfront development, West Harbor, set to open now in 2023.
(Courtesy Photo Port of Los Angeles)

An earlier construction view from Dec. 3, 2020, shows the promenade and landscaped area taking shape at the site of West Harbor in San Pedro. (Photo by Brittany Murray, Press-Telegram/SCNG)

A paved walkway highlights the new waterside promenade designed to provide more water views for the new West Harbor development set to open in 2023 in San Pedro. Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. (Photo by Brittany Murray, Press-Telegram/SCNG)

Construction workers are busy building the town square, a transition area that will lead from 7th Street to a parking lot and the promenade for the waterfront project in San Pedro on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Crews have been working throughout 2020 and 2021 to prepare the infrastructure that will be needed for West Harbor, the new development set to begin building construction in 2022 and open in 2023. (December, 2020, Photo by Brittany Murray, Press-Telegram/SCNG)

While groundbreaking for the actual waterfront development in San Pedro was delayed due to the pandemic, Port of Los Angeles construction crews have used the time to get the needed infrastructure for the project in place. The development, West Harbor, will break ground in 2022. Thursday, December 3, 2020. (Photo by Brittany Murray, Press-Telegram/SCNG)

This portion of the promenade will have a different concrete finish adding to the aesthetics of the San Pedro waterfront project in San Pedro on Thursday, December 3, 2020. Once the infrastructure along the water is complete, West Harbor can begin construction in 2022 and open in 2023 for the businesses. (December 2020 Photo by Brittany Murray, Press-Telegram/SCNG)

A promenade will run along the water at the Port of Los Angeles Main Channel. It is one of the key portions of the infrastructure that is now close to finished as developers prepare to begin construction on the West Harbor dining, retail and entertainment project in 2022. Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. On the left is the unfinished pebbled concrete and on the right is the finished look. (Photo by Brittany Murray, Press-Telegram/SCNG)

Visitors will have wide-open views of the water from the railed promenade at the future West Harbor development on San Pedro’s waterfront. Ground-breaking is set for 2022 with the opening of the first phase planned for 2023. Thursday, December 3, 2020. (Photo by Brittany Murray, Press-Telegram/SCNG)

This portion of the promenade will have a different concrete finish adding to the aesthetics of the San Pedro Waterfront project in San Pedro on Thursday, December 3, 2020. Once the infrastructure along the water is complete, West Harbor can begin construction in 2021 and open in 2022 for business. (Photo by Brittany Murray, Press-Telegram/SCNG)

Waterfront infrastructure work has continued throughout the coronavirus pandemic, preparing the way for the new attraction, West Harbor, that is expected to open in 2023. (Photo courtesy of Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino)

Work continues on a promenade that will run alongside San Pedro’s new waterfront development, West Harbor. A groundbreaking is expected in 2022 with an opening in 2023. (Photo courtesy of Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino)

A rendering of the re-banded San Pedro waterfront development which now is called West Harbor. (Rendering: Studio One Eleven, Rapt Studios)

Flags, nautical themes, color and a focus on water views will highlight West Harbor, the new San Pedro waterfront attraction expected to open to the public in 2023. (Rendering: Studio One Eleven, Rapt Studios)

An aerial view rendering of the West Harbor waterfront development planned for San Pedro. (Rendering: Studio One Eleven, Rapt Studios)

of

Expand

The canvas is primed.

But it remains unseen by most of the public — kept at bay, for now, by construction fences.

Large blocks of cleared open space, a recent tour of the site revealed, sit ready for new restaurants, outdoor dining patios and an amphitheater where the former Ports O’ Call buildings once stood on San Pedro’s waterfront.

Massive container and cruise ships glide through the shipping channel alongside the linear property, creating its own real-life theater.

And key infrastructure elements — the waterfront promenade, benches, a giant swing in the adjacent town square set to finish up soon and new landscaping — are already in place and await all that comes next.

The coronavirus pandemic managed to push back opening-day plans for San Pedro’s long-awaited new waterfront development, West Harbor. Groundbreaking now will be in early 2022 and the attraction is slated to open the public in late 2023, more than a year later that the dates laid out in the most-recent timelines and plans.

But the time lost to the pandemic provided some advantages.

Port of Los Angeles crews have worked throughout the past 23 months and have managed to complete much of the infrastructure, including most of a 30-foot-wide, 1.9-acre section of the promenade walkway that runs alongside the water.

The area, constructed with concrete unit pavers, has drought-tolerant plants and 34 trees of various species.

Benches made out of Brazilian walnut wood, 29-foot tall light poles, “Angel” wing lights and waterfront railings have been installed. There will also be drinking fountains, restrooms, a pet station, and trash and recycling receptacles.

Leashed canines will be welcome throughout much of the area and folks can come down to stroll the promenade or just sit by the water.

Along with a floating courtesy dock, it has set the stage for the coming in-fill, when construction on the buildings — the first structures will one of two sizes, 100 square feet and 75 square feet. They will house new anchor tenants who have signed leases, including Yamashiro, a century-old Japanese seafood restaurant that is an L.A. and Hollywood favorite.

Construction is expected to begin early next year.

The development has been more than a decade in the works and has drawn both anticipation and skepticism among locals.

Detractors have questioned whether it would ever be built — and, for sure, the project has taken much longer than originally expected.

Others have been critical of renderings and have lamented the loss of Ports O’ Call Village, a beloved and quaint seaside shopping village that opened in the 1960s but had become outdated and in need of physical repairs within two decades.

But the push to update San Pedro’s visitor waterfront with something fresh and new has been on the community’s wish list for many years.

Now, it appears the development, which has plodded along behind the scenes for so long, is about to gain more visibility.

The developers, Ratkovich Company of Los Angeles and Jerico Development of San Pedro — both family-run businesses — have worked alongside the Port of Los Angeles under a 50-year ground lease to move plans forward, going through several design iterations along the way. The landscape architect is James Corner Field Operations.

The latest change was a rebranding announced in October 2020 that altered the working name from the San Pedro Public Market to West Harbor, meant to contrast with the neighboring Long Beach harbor to the east.

The design makeover also threw in new splashes of color, nautical flags, expansive use of huge windows and other bright touches throughout the 42-acre site. West Harbor will combine with an interconnected Wilmington waterfront district, all of it branded the “L.A. Waterfront.”

The promenade is hailed as an element that was lacking from the old Ports O’ Call, which had buildings along the water — blocking shore access and views in many spots.

In a major announcement in August, the developers announced the signing of seven new anchor tenants. Besides Yamashiro, those tenants include Mike Hess Brewing, Hopscotch, Poppy + Rose, Sugar Factory, Jay Bird’s Chicken and a Mexican cantina.

The San Pedro Fish Market, which is still operating on the property, will not join the new development after negotiations for an anchor spot failed to come up with a plan that would give them the larger footprint the business said it needed. The Fish Market instead will move north to the other end of the Main Channel near the World Cruise Terminal and the Vincent Thomas Bridge.

But the new development will include a food market hall and space for other restaurants, including some local businesses that have expressed interest in moving there.

In part due to trends established during the pandemic, expansive outdoor eating spaces will be part of the layout, including plans for seating on a platform over the water.

Plans for an amphitheater have been adjusted to make use of portable seating and programming that will be seasonal, leaving the area open for other uses the rest of the time. The amphitheater will have 6,200 seats, allowing it to host large community or corporate events in addition to concerts.

Ultimately, a second phase of the development could include a boutique hotel at the northern end of the project, but that would come later and would require a full study of potential environmental consequences.

Ideas yet to be cemented include possible water attractions, such as floating pools, and some kind of vertical, interactive way-finder piece that would be seen from a distance — allowing motorists to visually identify West Harbor.

Harbor Breeze Cruises will offer harbor and dinner cruises. And Los Angeles city’s official brigantines, the Irving Johnson and Exy Johnson — the flagships of the Los Angeles Maritime Institute — will be docked at one of the main entrances.

Related Articles


Workers’ ‘Labor of Love’ event delivers food and vaccines in Wilmington


2,600 runners Conquer the Bridge in San Pedro as event returns to action


12th annual Conquer the Bridge climbs VT Bridge in San Pedro on Labor Day


San Pedro Waterfront developers announce 7 signed tenants


Division remains on how to get to zero-emission port truck fleet in Los Angeles, Long Beach

Parking will include 2,000 spaces onsite with another lot to be built on the bluff to the west.

The idea, said Eric Johnson of Jerico, is to put the spotlight on the port itself while offering what all successful waterfronts have in common: a variety of food, drink and entertainment.

Some specialty entertainment also will be woven in, Johnson said, but the days are gone when visitors mostly wanted to shop at brick-and-mortar stores, the kind that populated much of Ports O’ Call, which was built to resemble an East Coast fishing village.

The new attraction, Johnson said, will be authentic to San Pedro — and “not faux anything” else.

Sign up for The Localist, our daily email newsletter with handpicked stories relevant to where you live. Subscribe here.

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp
Share on print
Share on email
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp
Share on print
Share on email