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LONG BEACH : Port Acquires 725 Acres for $405 Million

March 24, 1994|GREG MILLER

In a move designed to position Long Beach as a leading shipping center in the next century, the port has completed the largest land purchase in its 83-year history.

The port bought 725 acres of land straddling the Cerritos Channel in the north harbor area from Union Pacific Corp. for $405 million. When developed, the land will increase the size of the harbor by 35%.

"We consider this a milestone," said port spokeswoman Yvonne Avila. "All predictions show that by the year 2020 we're going to double the amount of cargo coming through Long Beach. To accommodate that growth we're going to need more land."

The port plans to build shipping terminals to handle cargo ranging from clothing and electronics to such "breakbulk" items as lumber and steel, she said.

Avila said there are more than 300 oil wells on the property, of which 90 are active. The port has contracted with Long Beach-based Tidelands Oil Property Company to operate existing wells until the property is developed.

"Once we develop the land those oil wells will be taken out of production," Avila said. "They're not real moneymakers at this point."

Escrow on the sale closed Tuesday, ending at least two years of negotiations between the port and Union Pacific. Under the agreement, the port paid $280 million this week, including $150 million from reserves and $130 million raised by selling short-term commercial paper.

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