The LA Waterfront: Development Projects for a New Frontier

San Pedro Public Market, AltaSea, SpaceX and more

San Pedro Public Market | Rendering courtesy of Rapt Studio
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Set against the bustling backdrop of the Port of Los Angeles, the 400-acre LA Waterfront will undergo massive redevelopment over the next several years. Stretching from Wilmington on the north end, to San Pedro along the southwest perimeter of the Port, plans are in motion to create a new public market in close proximity to emerging hubs for technology and marine science, integrating the area’s rich history with an eye towards the future.

Over the past 15 years, the community-adjacent area along the Port’s main channel has grown its list of attractions to include Battleship IOWA, Brouwerij Brewery, CRAFTED (a maker’s craft marketplace), the Los Angeles Maritime Museum, a new section of Cabrillo Marina, and the expansion of the Frank Gehry-designed Cabrillo Marine Aquarium. Public open space development has tied these new attractions together with promenades, parks, landscaping, fountains, bike and walking paths, playgrounds, fitness stations, and event spaces.

Read on for a sneak peek of the future of the LA Waterfront.


Town Square Plaza at San Pedro Public Market
Town Square Plaza at San Pedro Public Market | Rendering courtesy of Rapt Studio

The San Pedro Public Market will replace Ports O’ Call, the New England-esque seaside “village” that served the local community and tourists for more than half a century. The new concept, described as “a world-class, urban waterfront destination,” will continue to serve as a family friendly spot with shopping, dining, fresh markets, and entertainment designed with sustainable urban elements.

The project includes a 15,000 square-foot food hall with 15 to 20 vendors serving food, beer, wine, and possibly a full bar. In addition to nearby Brouwerij West there are plans for another brewery. The 16-acre space will also include offices, a promenade, an amphitheater for live entertainment, and a Town Square that will connect to Downtown San Pedro. And there are plans for the historic Red Trolley to ride again.

The legendary San Pedro Fish Market will be open during construction but will move to a new two-level building at the north end of the complex. Also open during construction: Café International, Crusty Crab, and Harbor Breeze Cruises.

Developers The Ratkovich Company and Jerico Development will oversee the entire project; Rapt Studio, a California based design studio, will oversee the architecture; James Corner Field Operations, the designer of Manhattan’s “High Line” will head up landscape design. Construction is targeted to begin mid- to late 2019 with a projected opening in 2021.


Rendering of Berth 56 Engagement Center at AltaSea
Berth 56 Engagement Center at AltaSea | Rendering courtesy of Gensler

A century-old pier with access to the deep ocean will be the home of AltaSea, a public and private partnership that will serve as a world-class urban marine research and innovation center. Scientists, educators, policy makers, and entrepreneurs will come together to extensively research the ocean in pursuit of energy, climate, and food solutions. Designed by Gensler, one of the world’s leading architecture and design firms, this project has been described by Architectural Digest as “one of the most exciting new projects” in Los Angeles.

The build-out on 35 acres will take place in phases over the course of 20 years. Berths, warehouses, and public spaces will be revitalized and integrated to create a state-of-the-art campus that will include a hands-on education center, a science hub with classrooms and labs, a research and business hub, and a viewing center.

Among the tenants announced to date:

  • Boeing—the new home for the Voyager, a 51-foot-long robot submarine designed to stay under water and explore the deep sea for months at a time
  • Catalina Sea Ranch—a company at the forefront of aquaculture.
  • Ocean Exploration Trust—specializing in scientific exploration of the sea floor founded by Dr. Robert Ballard, the explorer who found the HMS Titanic.
  • Blue Robotics— a start-up creating innovative sea related products.
  • Braid Space—a co-working facility for ocean related start-ups.
  • La Kretz Blue Economy Incubator– headed by philanthropist and entrepreneur Morton La Kretz, its mission is to find and support entrepreneurs developing aquaculture, undersea mapping, and other ocean related businesses.
  • Boys and Girls Clubs of Los Angeles Harbor—Together with AltaSea, the two organizations aim to bring education and job training to the area’s youth, while nearby Cabrillo Marine Aquarium will assist with aquaculture education.
  • Southern California Marine Institute (SCMI)a consortium representing a strategic alliance of 22 major universities, colleges and foundations.


Elon Musk’s Hawthorne-based SpaceX is developing a harborside manufacturing facility on 19 acres of Terminal Island across from the LA Waterfront for research, design, and development of spacecraft parts. With the potential to hire over 700 people, the new facility will initially be 80,000 square feet with future plans to expand to 200,000 square feet.

The primary objective is to build the new Big Falcon Rocket (BFR)— a 350-foot-tall, 4,400-ton rocket that will be used for interplanetary travel to the Moon and Mars, as well as for a quick ride from the U.S. to international locations. The rocket is so large that the only transportation method is by water. SpaceX has been using the Port of Los Angeles since 2012 for its West Coast recovery operations. Musk has stated that he hopes to able to reach Mars by 2022.


Rendering of Wilmington Waterfront Promenade Upper Lawn
Wilmington Waterfront Promenade Upper Lawn | Rendering courtesy of Port of Los Angeles

Construction will begin in 2019 on two new open park spaces designed by T.Y. Lin International and Boston-based Sasaki with a completion date of 2021. The Wilmington Waterfront Promenade is an extension of the current park and will be built in an area now occupied by storage tanks and industrial buildings, thereby creating a “window on the Waterfront” for the Wilmington community within the Port of Los Angeles. It will include a waterfront promenade, pedestrian plaza and parking lot.

Pedestrian bridge at Avalon Promenade and Gateway Project
Avalon Promenade and Gateway Project | Rendering courtesy of Port of Los Angeles

The Avalon Promenade and Gateway Project involves the construction of a 1,300-foot long pedestrian bridge along Avalon Boulevard to provide pedestrian access to the Wilmington Waterfront Promenade. 

Both projects will build significant infrastructure to support future commercial development opportunities. Currently there are bike lanes that connect Wilmington to the future San Pedro Public Market. Both projects will have public seating, bike racks and public drinking fountains.