City to consider hotel management agreement for Queen Mary; reopening possible this fall

The Long Beach City Council on Tuesday will consider allocating $2.87 million for the Queen Mary in anticipation of possibly reopening the ship by October.

The aging vessel has been closed since 2020 as the city works on critical repairs. In its regular meeting Tuesday, the council will consider a five-year hotel management agreement with Evolution Hospitality, a San Clemente-based third-party contractor that has managed the ship’s daily operations for the past decade.

Under the agreement, Evolution will plan for reopening and operating the ship’s hotel, attractions, parking, retail and food and beverage services.

The $2.87 million for re-opening the ship would come from Tidelands Operating Funds, which are city funds that can only be used in coastal areas. The plan includes $1.6 million in pre-opening costs for staffing and other approved costs and $1 million for improvement projects.

The city in a report said the ship needs about $1 million in improvements to reopen, including replacement of the ship’s boilers, HVAC/refrigeration and elevator repairs, repair/installation of heat exchangers, kitchen cleaning, guest room repairs and more.

Meanwhile, the city continues to work on $5 million in larger, critical safety repairs for the ship. Earlier this year, the city removed 20 of the ship’s 22 badly corroded lifeboats, which were deemed a safety hazard. The next round of critical repairs will include improvements to the ship’s bilge pump systems and bulkheads, which support structural stability and help discharge water in the event of flooding.  

While the city plans for some repairs to safely reopen the ship, plans for the Queen Mary’s long term viability remain unclear.

A report released in 2021 from marine engineering firm Elliott Bay Design Group said the ship would need $23 million in urgent safety repairs to stay “viable” over the next two years, while a marine survey in 2016 found that the ship would need around $289 million in repairs.

In one possible solution, the city is considering transferring operations of the ship to the Harbor Commission, which oversees the Port of Long Beach. The commission would then use its own budget for critical repairs and to develop the surrounding land, known as Pier H.

The plan is still being negotiated, but the port in an analysis in May said taking on the ship could cost the port $354 million and eat into critical capital projects.

Long Beach, which has owned the Queen Mary since its arrival in 1967, took over operations last year after former operator Eagle Hospitality Trust filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The city in June 2021 approved a $2 million, six-month contract with Evolution Hospitality to cover monthly utility fees, security, landscaping and other costs to keep the ship running. 

Under the new proposed contract, Evolution would be paid $25,000 per month beginning in July to get the ship ready for a planned Oct. 1 reopening date. The company would also be paid 2.5% of the ship’s total operating revenue for the first year, and then 2% for the following years.

The city said Evolution anticipates the ship’s operations can offset expenses for fiscal year 2023, with an expected net revenue of $1 million for Long Beach. 

Long Beach to ‘dispose’ of historic Queen Mary lifeboats after receiving no qualified bidders

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Kelly Puente is an award-winning general assignment and special projects reporter at the Long Beach Post. She has worked as a journalist in Long Beach since 2006, covering everything from education and crime to courts and breaking news. Kelly previously worked at the Long Beach Press-Telegram and the Orange County Register before joining the Post in 2018. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public policy and administration at Cal State Long Beach. Reach her at [email protected].
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