Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Long Beach Port HQ Move May Come By Year’s End

The Port of Long Beach, which for years has tried to find a new location to replace its crumbling headquarters, but saw it’s the momentum stalled last year by a board stalemate, could move its administrative offices to an interim location by the end of 2011, according to officials.

The current seven-story headquarters is located on the outskirts of the port’s confines, but the new offices could be located outside the port.

“We’re looking primarily in downtown Long Beach, but we’re not limiting the field,” Doug Thiessen, the port’s managing director of engineering, revealed during the harbor commission’s March 12 business meeting.

“We’d prefer to keep all the employees in one building, but if we had to break them in different locations, what would be the drive time to and from the port facilities,” is something under consideration, he said.

Also among the criteria port staff is looking at, he said, is drive time to the port from the headquarters building, the building’s size, security and whether there’s a need for a real estate appraisal.

The port had originally planned to internally fund and build a $220 million state-of-the-art headquarters within the harbor; however the idea was eventually shot down by Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster as too expensive. Since then, the port’s been looking to lease or purchase a nearby office building to house the port’s 400-member staff.

Last fall, the harbor commission twice deadlocked on a 2-2 vote whether to purchase the Long Beach World Trade Center. Vice President Thomas Fields and commissioner Nick Sramek voted for the extension and commissioners Rich Dines and Doug Drummond against. The fifth member, President Susan Wise has recused herself from the issue because she and her husband both have office space in the building.

Fields and Sramek argued the purchase was needed to expedite the exodus of the port’s 450-person staff from the current building, which was built in the 1950s and has been declared seismically deficient.

But Dines and Drummond argued that the purchase price – $130 million – was too steep for the 27-story downtown building. The purchase plan was eventually dropped.

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