It’s really happening.
If you’ve taken a drive along Harbor Boulevard recently, you’ve probably seen it yourself: The construction of West Harbor is finally underway, and those massive, shiny, triangle-shaped metal frameworks of buildings that we’ve only seen through artist renderings are coming to life. San Pedro’s future is being written.
It’s been a long time coming. For a decade, many San Pedrans have been openly skeptical about the future of our waterfront and what it means for our community, and for good reason. Since the Port of Los Angeles announced that The Ratkovich Company and San Pedro-based Jerico Development were taking on the project to replace Ports O’ Call Village in 2013, it’s been a decade of name changes, concept shifts, the addition of a 6,200-seat amphitheater, and many stops and starts.
But now, with construction in full swing and new leases signed, the momentum has swung forward at a feverish pace. If the current timeline sticks, San Pedro will welcome West Harbor, a one-mile-long seaside shopping, dining, and entertainment complex, in the summer of 2025.
“We’ve hung in long enough,” says Eric Johnson of Jerico Development. “Good things keep happening. It’s a national and regional story, so we’re getting a lot more interesting folks approaching us now.”
LONG PROMISED ROAD
No one knows the community’s history with West Harbor better than Eric and Alan Johnson, the brothers behind Jerico. Having hosted numerous public meetings over the years showcasing their constantly evolving plans for the 42-acre, $170 million project, and being locals who own many properties in San Pedro, they’ve read and heard every comment and criticism thrown their way.
The Johnsons are quick to admit the road hasn’t been smooth. Still, the skepticism has turned into anticipation now that the community can see actual progress, including recent pop-up market events along the partially completed Waterfront Promenade.
“It’s been a gauntlet of challenges, and we’re just resolved to solve them,” says Eric. “There’s more to be done and more money to be spent, and we’re working through all of that and accelerating this build, which, at the end of the day, will cost less and be open quicker.”
It’s been an interesting couple of years for the redevelopment project, filled with several highs and lows. In August 2021, after making it through the height of the pandemic, the developers announced the signing of the first seven anchor tenants. That number has more than doubled, a testament to business and investors’ confidence in the project.
Last November, after securing $90 million in construction financing (adding to the already secured $65 million of investor equity), West Harbor finally broke ground and construction began.
Adding to the momentum, with the first phase of the Waterfront Promenade project completed by the Port of Los Angeles in late 2021, construction on the second and final phase began in July. When completed, the nearly one-mile-long, 30-foot-wide open space pathway will stretch from the L.A. Maritime Museum to the southern end of West Harbor.
In August, the infrastructure was in place to begin construction on West Harbor’s Building A, the future home of Mike Hess Brewing and Hopscotch Immersive Art, two of the project’s original anchor tenants.
Sadly, tragedy hit on September 24 with the passing of beloved L.A. real estate developer Wayne Ratkovich. Best known for saving several L.A. landmarks, Ratkovich was instrumental in forming the partnership with Jerico Development and securing the Ports O’ Call redevelopment project from the Port. He also led many of the project’s public meetings. While he stepped down from his daily involvement with West Harbor in 2020 during the pandemic, his influence and legacy are still being felt, according to the Johnsons.
“He made really valuable projects and properties come back to life,” says Alan. “He just changed the whole mindset in my way of thinking about [development]. It was really exciting [to work with him], and he was all the things you could have hoped for. He’s just going to be so missed.”
WHAT’S HAPPENING NOW?
If you ask the folks at Jerico, West Harbor is already “open.” Kind of.
While construction continues to the south, the developers have begun activating the first phase of the Waterfront Promenade to the north near the L.A. Maritime Museum.
Earlier this year, the San Pedro Makers Market held several monthly pop-up events featuring food vendors and artisans that drew sizable crowds to the promenade. Also, the San Pedro Fish Market opened their temporary outdoor dining spot called The Landing earlier this summer, attracting their enormous, mostly out-of-town, customer base back to the waterfront.
The developers are also working with smaller, independent vendors, like San Pedro start-up Chimney, Crepes, and Boba Tea, to keep the promenade active on weekends.
“We are working with a really exciting potential pop-up that will last for a while,” says Lauren Johnson of Jerico Development. “It’s part of the bigger plan to have larger, more established food pop-ups [and] a beer garden, and also uses that complement [them], like beverages, coffee, and desserts, that we’re working on for the promenade as we build out the bigger North Park space.”
Harbor Breeze Cruises and the Los Angeles Maritime Institute are also currently in operation along the promenade.
WHO’S MOVING IN?
Here is the current list of upcoming West Harbor tenants that have officially been announced:
Mike Hess Brewing – The San Diego-based company was the first to sign on to West Harbor. The popular brewery has plans for a 20,000-square-foot, indoor-outdoor, dog-friendly beer garden with lawn games and entertainment right next to the highly anticipated amphitheater.
Marufuku Ramen – The popular authentic Hakata-style Tonkotsu ramen restaurant will open its ninth location along the waterfront. It will be the company’s first location in L.A. County.
Yamashiro – The century-old Japanese-fusion restaurant in the Hollywood Hills will open its second location in San Pedro. Also, the company’s previously announced plans for a Sugar Factory at West Harbor have changed, with new details yet to be announced.
The Win~Dow and Pitfire Pizza – Both owned by restaurateur Paul Hibler, The Win~Dow is known for its smash burgers, while Pitfire Pizza specializes in artisan, wood-fired pizzas and specialty pastas.
King and Queen Cantina – Owner Jorge Cueva (Mr. Tempo) is expanding his empire to San Pedro with an original Mexican cantina concept restaurant that will include outdoor waterfront dining.
Olala Crepes – The San Diego-based creperie will open its first Los Angeles location at West Harbor, offering a wide selection of high-quality crepes and paninis.
The Baked Bear – Founded in 2013 by childhood friends Rob Robbins and Shane Stanger, the San Diego-based company is famous for its custom ice cream sandwiches and cookies.
Poppy + Rose – The popular country-style breakfast and brunch spot in Downtown Los Angeles will open a new location along the waterfront, with an outdoor patio and active garden where they’ll grow their vegetables and herbs on-site.
Mario’s Butcher Shop & Delicatessen – Based in Newport Beach, owner Chef Mario Llamas brings his high-end deli to West Harbor, featuring made-to-order sandwiches, burgers, and other deli market items.
San Pedro Fish Market – The wildly popular fish market will return to the San Pedro waterfront with a new permanent location at West Harbor. The fish market’s current temporary location will move north in the coming months to accommodate construction. According to the developers, plans are to open the new San Pedro Fish Market by 2026.
The previously announced Jay Bird’s Chicken, owned by Wild Thyme Restaurant Group, has changed concepts and will now be a new location for their high-end Mexican restaurant, Molé Comida.
In addition to the eateries, West Harbor will be home to Hopscotch Immersive Art. With one location in San Antonio, Texas, Hopscotch brings its immersive collaborative art projects to San Pedro with carefully curated exhibitions. The exhibit space will also feature a bar and outdoor patio.
Bark Social – The self-described “first social club for dogs and dog lovers” will open its state-of-the-art dog park at West Harbor’s North Park area. It will feature a dog-friendly restaurant serving humans and pups, craft beers, dog baths, multiple televisions, high-speed Wi-Fi, and more.
Harbor Breeze Cruises, owner Dan Salas will be bringing his fleet of double-decker sightseeing ships to West Harbor, offering whale watching and dinner cruises, while the Los Angeles Maritime Institute (LAMI) will dock their tall ships along the promenade.
There are also early talks of moving the Battleship USS Iowa south from its current location near the Vincent Thomas Bridge to West Harbor.
The project’s final phase will be a proposed boutique hotel next to the L.A. Maritime Museum.
With 375,000 square feet of restaurant, retail, and entertainment space to fill, the developers expect 35-40 tenants of various sizes and businesses when the project is finished.
“It’s a good solid group,” says Eric. “One of the more striking things is the ecosystem of entrepreneurs that comprise our tenants. There are no [large] national chains. They’re mostly family businesses and just really unique people that get [stuff] done.”
WHAT ABOUT THE AMPHITHEATER?
Plans are still in the works for the much-anticipated 6,200-seat seaside amphitheater, and the West Harbor developers, in partnership with Nederlander Concerts, are proceeding as if it will happen.
First, they must go through the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) process to determine the amphitheater’s effects on the community. At the top of the list are noise, traffic, and parking concerns. When approved, the amphitheater is projected to host approximately 100 major events annually.
Sitting on 2.5 acres of park space, the amphitheater is also expected to serve as a much-needed public venue for local community events.
“Not every show is going to be 6,200 people. You can configure the space with all kinds of different seating to fit the show,” explains Eric. “Nederlander has been a great partner, and it’s been great working with the Port.”
The developers also know how important something like a regional amphitheater is to the local economy.
“The amphitheater is also important because it will bring people [to San Pedro] to come down for the weekend, make a trip out of it,” says Alan. “That’s been a long-held desire of the business community. Plus, there’s so much more for [visitors] to see, from Point Fermin to the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium.”
The EIR is expected to be released by the end of the year, followed by a series of public comment sessions that will likely last a few months. The developers are hoping for a final decision on the amphitheater sometime next year.
“I think I said this at the groundbreaking,” remembers Eric. “Pedro has this great saying that I’ve always loved, ‘Let’s go big or go home.’ Well, we’re already home.” spt
For more info on West Harbor, visit westharborla.com.