Los Angeles-based real estate investment and development firm Urban Commons has officially taken over as the Queen Mary’s new master leaseholder under a 66-year lease agreement finalized on April 19, according to an announcement from the ship’s new operator.


Urban Commons plans to create a “bustling retail, dining and entertainment district surrounding the Queen Mary for locals and tourists alike, while infusing contemporary influences on board the ship to return the Queen to her glory days,” Urban Commons officials wrote in a prepared statement.


Based on preliminary conceptual plans, development of 45 acres surrounding the Queen Mary is expected to cost more than $250 million, funding that Urban Commons plans to come up with on its own through the project’s completion, Erica Feher, a spokesperson for Urban Commons, confirmed with the Business Journal in an e-mail.


In addition, Urban Commons plans to invest approximately $10 million to $15 million in renovations to the ship that are anticipated to be debuted in mid-2017.


While plans are still preliminary, the operator is considering adding a Ferris wheel among other new attractions, such as a new entertainment venue. Previous plans have included adding a boutique hotel and a new marina.


Feher noted that, although the Long Beach City Council approved Urban Commons’ takeover of the ship late last year, the lease transfer was officially finalized on April 19.


On the same day the lease was transferred, the city council at its meeting approved appropriating about $1.7 million the city received under the ship’s previous lease agreement through a percentage rent in Fiscal Year 2014 to be used for capital and historic preservation of the attraction.


The funding is expected to go toward critical repairs of the ship, including deficiencies at the forward expansion joint that have resulted in the closure of the Promenade Café. Repairs to the expansion joint alone are estimated to cost $625,000.


City staff states that relying on pass-through rent from a sublease is “insufficient” for funding larger structural and historic preservation projects or unforeseen emergency repairs. City staff previously stated that Carnival Cruise Lines has agreed to provide about $2.5 million a year in passenger fees as a new revenue stream to pay for historic preservation of the Queen Mary in return for full access to the Spruce Goose dome.


According to the announcement, Urban Commons plans to implement a phased approach to an “all-encompassing renovation” over the next several years, with upgrades within the ship expected to begin immediately, according to Urban Commons officials.


Urban Commons is expected to infuse “modern details with a nod to the past” throughout the interior of the ship, from guestrooms to restaurant spaces, creating a “new aura of regal elegance” while maintaining the ship’s “cherished historic elements,” Urban Commons states.


“The debut of the new Queen Mary will bring to life an energetic destination that draws visitors in from near and far, rivaling major attractions in premier cities around the globe,” Taylor Woods, principal of Urban Commons, stated in a press release. “We see this as a once in a lifetime opportunity to help shape the future of a storied landmark, and Urban Commons is honored to have a hand in this transformation.”


Urban Commons plans to work with the City of Long Beach, the Queen Mary Land Development Task Force and the community on the review and approval process for the buildout of the 45 acres surrounding the ship and intends to continue the ship’s annual events, including Dark Harbor and CHILL, while working closely with Carnival Cruise Line to enhance its existing terminal.