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New Queen Mary Leaseholder, Urban Commons, Promises Collaboration; Stakeholder Carnival Cruise Lines Seeks Input

Following the Long Beach City Council’s approval of Los Angeles-based real estate investment firm Urban Commons as the new master leaseholder for the Queen Mary and adjacent acreage, the company has indicated it will work with stakeholders and community groups to develop the property over the next several years.

“The Queen Mary is a true crown jewel for both Long Beach and Greater Southern California. Urban Commons is excited to step in to help shape the future of such a storied landmark,” Taylor Woods, principal of Urban Commons, told the Business Journal in an e-mailed statement.

“Upon lease transfer, we will work closely with The Queen Mary Land Development Task Force and the greater community to develop a thoughtful plan that honors the rich history of the Queen Mary and addresses any potential concerns from the public,” Woods continued.

Mayor Robert Garcia announced the formation of this task force, which is dedicated to identifying best uses for the Queen Mary property, in September. The group is expected to hold its first meeting on January 6.

Carlos Torres de Navarra, vice president of commercial port operations for Carnival Cruise Lines, told the Business Journal via e-mail that his company has asked to be included in discussions about the site’s future. Carnival has three cruise ships that embark on voyages from the dome adjacent to the Queen Mary.

“We have requested to be part of this task force in order to comment and add value as ideas arise,” de Navarra said. “We are essentially the tenant of the city and want to continue to add value to the city and the region.” Garcia’s list of task force members announced in September did not include a Carnival representative.

De Navarra continued, “We have been trying to acquire more of the dome in order to potentially bring larger ships to Long Beach in the future. Securing the rest of the dome is needed to efficiently operate larger ships that will bring more guests to the city.”

He indicated that dealing with a new leaseholder might affect these plans. “It seems the city has contracted for a new operator for the Queen Mary – which in turn would become our new landlord (our fourth since opening the cruise terminal in 2003),” De Navarra said. “Thus we are now back to square one in achieving our ultimate goal of expanding our operations in Long Beach.”

Woods indicated his team would work with Carnival as they determine a development strategy for the property. “We are currently evaluating Carnival Cruise Lines’ use of the dome structure, and will work closely with the Carnival team to identify opportunities to support their expanded service in our redevelopment plans,” he said.

“Urban Commons will implement a phased approach to development over the next several years,” Woods explained. “The first phase will focus on restoring the beauty of the ship while the second phase will include building out the 45 acres surrounding the ship to create a world-class entertainment venue.” He concluded, “In partnership with the City of Long Beach, we look forward to breathing new life into the beloved icon and shaping the vision for the Queen Mary’s future.”

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