Everybody likes to look at ships, even those who are so seasick-prone that they wouldn't set foot on one that was tied up to a pier.
But how many offices are there where you can sit at your desk or in a visitor's chair and watch the ships and boats go by?
Considering the whole Pacific coastline, quite a number, but not many of them are right on the shore--so close you can look down on the boats, not out at them.
Catalina Landing, which officially opened Thursday in Long Beach, is one where that is true. Its developers say it is the last such site in Long Beach and perhaps in all of California.
And just so you won't be stuck with nothing to look at but the tankers, freighters and cruise ships in the main channel 100 yards or so away, the Catalina Island ferries are docking and disembarking their passengers, then re-embarking and sailing out just below you. Hence the complex's name--Catalina Landing.
The $50-million complex has the same name that the site has had for many years, the decades it has been a mainland terminal of the passenger ferries to Santa Catalina Island. (Other ferries start from San Pedro and Newport Beach and there is ferry service both to Avalon and the Isthmus on the island.) Some of the boats were diverted to San Pedro during construction but at least some service continued without interruption.
The present complex consists of five structures connected by a two-level plaza. Three square buildings, each containing 51,500 square feet of leasable space, sit directly in front of the broad ferry landing, placed diagonally to maximize views. A fourth building, rectangular and containing 60,500 square feet of space, is to the east of the ferry basin with its long axis parallel to the water. Behind, to the north, is a three-level, 1,500-car parking structure.
The three square buildings are connected by a double-decked plaza, the top level of which, known as Plaza 1, continues at the back and connects with the second level of the parking garage.
The 60,000-square-foot lower level of the plaza--Plaza 2--contains the offices and waiting rooms of Catalina Cruises, operator of the ferries, while the remainder is retail space.
The complex was developed by Catalina Landing Associates, a partnership of Crowley Development Corp. and Pankow Development Co. The architect is Hope Consulting Group of San Diego, and the design/building contractor is Charles Pankow Associates of Altadena. The engineering consultants are Key Air Conditioning Co. of Santa Fe Springs, mechanical, and Transpac of Oceanside, electrical.
The landscape architect is Kawasaki/Theilacker Associates of San Diego, and interior space planning is by Interior Architects Inc. of Los Angeles. Coldwell Banker Real Estate Management Services, Torrance office, is the managing agent and the leasing agent is Cushman & Wakefield of California Inc., also of Torrance.
The building exteriors are marked by beveled horizontal spandrels of precast concrete alternating with recessed bands of gray tinted glass. Offices on the upper plaza level have a ground-floor ambiance; the lower-plaza levels of the buildings are common areas of the plaza.
The outdoor areas of the upper plaza have been given a park-like atmosphere with continuous benches, free-standing seating, planters and land scaping. The concrete aggregate paving, accented by areas of gray brick, extend from the buildings' lobby areas throughout the plazas and promenades.
The complex is about 40% leased. Already occupying their portions of that 110,000 square feet are Catalina Associates, Crowley Maritime, McDonnell Douglas Finance Corp. and Marcus & Millichamp.
The Long Beach Chamber of Commerce and Eagle Pacific Insurance are scheduled to move in about Oct. 15, while Seattle-based Restaurants Unlimited has signed a lease and expects to open a gourmet restaurant on the upper plaza level within the year.
The southern side of the 11.3-acre site is bounded by Queens Way Bay and the Los Angeles River, the north by Shoreline Drive, the east by Queen's Way and the west by Golden Shore Boulevard. Primary access is from Queen's Way, a six-lane, divided thoroughfare between Harbor Scenic Drive and Ocean Boulevard, and from Golden Shore.
It has been said that the Long Beach/Los Angeles Harbor complex is a place where "you can sit in a bar and watch the boats go by or sit in a boat and watch the bars go by."
Catalina Landing is a place where you can sit in a boat and watch the offices go by or sit in an office and watch the boats go by.