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Could San Pedro's Ports O' Call Market Become 'Disneyland By the Sea' Once More?

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The Port of LA issued a request today for redevelopment proposals for the 30-acre San Pedro waterfront property known as Ports O' Call Village, according to a dispatch from City Councilmember Joe Buscaino. "The Port plans to select a master developer to carry out a comprehensive redevelopment of the property and enter in to a long-term ground lease," according to a press release from the city and the councilman. The same missive describes the Ports O' Call's proximity to the USS Iowa, the new Crafted marketplace, and a planned harbor and public plaza. Los Angeles magazine associate editor and city historian Chris Nichols believes the Ports O' Call should return to its kitschy beginnings of 50 years ago, when it was created by a former World War II pilot named David Tallichet ("set amidst the Hong Kong Village, 'Old California,' Polynesian pop and New England architecture were roving entertainers, 42 international gift shops and two floating restaurants aboard paddle-wheel steamships").

The district received a revamp thanks to current owner Jayme Wilson, who replaced the theme restaurants with new eateries, a popular seafood market, and mariachi bands; a Red Car trolley and fountains also improved the Ports O' Call. But Nichols doesn't like the recent trend of removing old factories and fishing infrastructure to make way for green space and bike lanes (the National Trust for Historic Preservation recently put the Port's Terminal Island on its list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places): "I applaud any effort to make this place better but these empty parks are way creepier than the empty warehouses were ... Vast acreage of native plants and unused benches are not equal to the feeling of community that exists at a place like Ports O' Call." Nichols says a return to Tallichet's vision, a "Disneyland by the Sea," is better than "another empty concrete plaza or soulless big box wasteland."
· Ports O' Call Village: Dead or Alive? [Los Angeles]
· Can the Port's New Craft Market Lure Shoppers to San Pedro? [Curbed LA]