AltaSea invites public to May 29 ribbon-cutting festivities in San Pedro

Donna Littlejohn | March 21, 2024 | Daily Breeze

Another milestone for San Pedro’s ambitious AltaSea ocean research center will be celebrated this spring with a ribbon-cutting ceremony for part of a $30 million renovation of three historic waterfront warehouses.Work is nearly complete on AltaSea’s Center for Innovation at Berth 58. A ribbon-cutting is slated for 10 a.m. May 29. This section will be home to researchers from USC, UCLA and Caltech, as well as famed oceanographer and explorer Robert Ballard, credited with discovering the underwater wreckage of the Titanic.Since the idea was first floated in the early 2000s, AltaSea has pursued a bold vision to become the world’s largest ocean research and tech hub in the world.The idea was to take the now-mostly empty, historic 100-year-old port warehouses near the Outer Harbor and transform them into a center where researchers, students and innovative “blue” tech businesses could set up shop and collaborate.The growth was slow, but with kickoff grant funding from the Annenberg Foundation. more investments followed.The vision was scaled back somewhat but the 35-acre campus at 2451 Signal St., in San Pedro — now also known as City Dock One — appears to be hitting a growth spurt.Terry Tamminen, the state’s former Environmental Protection Agency secretary and a former aide and policy advisor to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, came onboard in 2022 as president and CEO.This spring, Tamminen said, will mark essentially the completion of the three main warehouse spaces — all under one roof — and with a major tenant expected to be announced in coming months, AltaSea has hit its stride.Next up will be a separate warehouse space to the north that will be rehabilitated to house a university laboratory and classroom space that is expected to open in 2028.“That would complete the west campus on the west side of Signal Street,” Tamminen said in a Wednesday, March 20, telephone interview.But there’s more.Across the street, there are 15 acres that once housed an oil tank farm but is really “a blank slate.”Soil remediation will be needed there, Tamminen said, but sometime this year there could be a plan on how best to develop it. He envisions possibilities such as a large wave tank to help study coastal resilience, mini-versions of aquaculture farms and demonstrations.“Both for us and the port,” the said, “there’s a wide variety (of possibilities) for potential uses.”And AltaSea will also be watching the port’s expressed availability for using the historic, 400,000 square-foot Warehouse One building adjacent to the campus site. Port of Los Angeles officials said they expect to issue a request for proposals for Warehouse One sometime following the issuance of one for the new cruise terminal later this year.AltaSea’s vision is to “create a modern campus that can house the best and brightest minds in the world to find solutions to climate change through the ocean,” Tamminen said in a written comment.The upcoming ribbon-cutting ceremony will mark a significant milestone, he said.In July 2023, AltaSea broke ground on the three historic warehouses — Nos. 58, 59, 60, with each offering 60,000 square feet — for research, education, workforce development and innovation. The campus will provide improved space for current and expanded operations for many of AltaSea’s existing tenants and partners, including:

  • USC’s regenerative aquaculture lab.
  • UCLA’s ocean carbon dioxide removal technology.
  • Captura, a carbon removal company founded at Caltech.
  • Calcarea, a carbon sequestration startup out of Caltech and USC.
  • Ballard and his exploration vessel.
  • AltaSeads, the largest aquaculture seed bank in the U.S.
  • A 3D concrete spring company, RCAM Technologies, which will build infrastructure for offshore energy projects.
  • Pacific6’s Pacific Alliance, the only aquaculture vessel of its kind in the world.
  • Braid Theory, a venture advisory firm specializing in startups merging from university research programs.
  • Beneficial State Bank’s commercial loan hub.
  • Eco Wave Power, generating clean, renewable energy from waves.

Funding for the spaces being celebrated at the upcoming ribbon cutting came from $29 million in contributions from California, the Port of Los Angeles and private donors. The money covered construction costs, a linear park/garden area and the installation of rooftop solar power panels. Additional funds will go toward added educational programs, staffing and tenant improvements inside the buildings.While research tenants likely will be permanent, Tamminen said, AltaSea’s future is expected to also help new startup businesses launch and then be able to move on. In that sense, the hub will always be evolving.The May 29 ribbon cutting is open to the public, he said, and will be “very festive,” with opportunities to tour the spaces.

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