In the next few years an old, unused pier in San Pedro will be transformed into a half-billion dollar ocean research campus with the world's largest seawater wave tank. It's called AltaSea.

This week the L.A. City Council unanimously approved a 50-year lease between the Port of Los Angeles and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors that will allow development of the 35-acre think tank to get started:

AltaSea is getting off the ground as a result of a public-private partnership that includes the Port, AltaSea organizers, and 12 area universities, including USC and UCLA, that will anchor the project's first phase with the Southern California Marine Institute.

The $185 million first phase has already received $82 million, including $57 million public money and $25 million from the Annenberg Foundation.

The doors at berths 56 and 57 on the 100-year-old pier are scheduled to be opened in 2018. According to the office of local City Councilman Joe Buscaino:

The planned AltaSea campus will feature circulating sea-water labs, offices, classrooms, lecture halls, support facilities, an interpretive center, and an opportunity to develop the world's largest seawater wave tank for studying tsunamis and rogue waves.


AltaSea represents another tremendous addition to the transformed LA Waterfront, while also creating jobs and spurring local economic growth.

A study on the project (we're always wary of these things) claims $1.17 billion in economic benefits for the people of L.A. One thing's for sure: Jobs will be created — as many as 1,350 — Buscaino's office says.

Bring 'em on.

Credit: Office of Councilman Buscaino.

Credit: Office of Councilman Buscaino.

The big question is whether the general public will have access to said project. We asked Buscaino's office. The answer is yes.

AltaSea will develop a promenade, an interpretive center for school field trips, an auditorium and classrooms, a spokesman told us:

Academics and other professionals will also be able to access 4,100 linear feet of waterfront docks, multiple berths for research vessels, circulating seawater to support marine life used for projects, laboratories, 200,000 feet of research space and entrepreneurial incubator facilities, a sea-water lab, a dive locker and a machine shop.

We just want to be able to surf that wave tank. Unlikely.

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