For the first time in over 40 years, the City of Long Beach will regain full control of the Queen Mary, effective today, June 4, 2021. The City is committed to preserving the historic Queen Mary, ensuring the ship is properly restored and cared for.
“For the first time in decades, Long Beach has full control of the Queen Mary. We will be fully engaged in the preservation of this historic landmark and are incredibly grateful for this opportunity,” said Mayor Robert Garcia.
This swift action comes after the sudden decision by current lessee, Urban Commons Queensway LLC, to surrender its existing leases and file a motion to formally reject the leases through the bankruptcy process. The current lessee was in default of several provisions of the leases, including failure to maintain the ship caused in part by decades of deferred maintenance by former operators of the ship.
To protect the safety and stability of the Queen Mary, on Tuesday June 8, 2021, Long Beach City Council will consider the immediate authorization of $500,000 in Tidelands Critical Infrastructure funds to begin testing and design work for the most critical repairs recommended in recent inspections, including bulkhead repairs, lifeboat removal, and the installation of an emergency generator, temporary bilge pumps, and water intrusion warning systems. City staff are actively identifying additional funding options, to be presented to Council at a later date, to cover these immediate repairs, which are currently estimated to cost a minimum of $5 million. As part of the transaction, the City will also regain control of the surrounding properties which includes over 40 acres of parks, cruise terminals and parking lots. This will provide a historic opportunity for the City and its partners to reactivate and refresh these areas for public use, special events, and filming opportunities which provide important revenue-generating activities to support the Queen Mary.
“I am excited about this once in a generation opportunity to set the course for future preservation and development of our City’s icon,” said Councilwoman Cindy Allen. “This is a chance to enhance our stewardship of the Queen Mary and I look forward to working with my colleagues to lead the upcoming discussions. We know this is a big undertaking, and we are committed to doing right by our community who hold the Queen Mary dear in their hearts.”
While costly investments for the ship’s capital repairs have not been made through the City’s General Fund but rather through private operators of the ship, invested funding from revenues generated on site has nearly doubled over the past 15 years. Approximately $23.3 million was invested in the last five years, compared to approximately $12.3 million in the ten-year period before.
The ship will remain closed to the public while critical repairs are completed, as it is faster and more cost efficient to complete this work when there are no visitors present. The City Council plans to hold a study session to discuss additional options and strategies for preserving the Queen Mary.
Additionally, the City is prepared to immediately enter into a $2 million contract with Evolution Hospitality, a third-party hospitality management company with experience managing boutique hotels and resorts. Over the past 11 years, Evolution Hospitality has served as a third-party contract operator and has a proven ability to manage the unique day-to-day operations of the Queen Mary Hotel and surrounding property. The City’s proposed contract with Evolution Hospitality will extend for a period of six months with the option to renew for an additional sixth-month period if necessary. As part of that caretaker agreement with Evolution Hospitality, the City will retain Historic Resources Advisor John Thomas, who has served in this role aboard the Queen Mary for nearly a decade, so that the historic treasures aboard the Queen Mary continue to be protected. To ensure continuous safety and security of the Queen Mary and surrounding properties, City Council action to enter into contract with Evolution Hospitality is anticipated at the next City Council Meeting on June 8, 2021.
The City last had day-to-day control of the Queen Mary in 1978 and, prior to leasing to private companies over the last few decades, the Port of Long Beach held ownership until 1993. At the request of the City Council, the Port of Long Beach is currently conducting a study of resuming ownership of the Queen Mary and surrounding properties. The Port expects to return to the City Council with a report later this summer.
The Queen Mary has been a landmark of the Long Beach shoreline since it first arrived in September 1967 and has greeted over 50 million visitors from around the world. When open and operating, the Queen Mary is a critical economic generator for the City. According to an extensive economic impact study published in May 2020, the ship provided over 1,300 jobs, produced nearly $94 million in economic output, and generated $3.3 million in tax revenue annually to pay for important citywide public services.