Jay Beeler

Dan Zaharoni states “The boat is not going to sink” in reference to recent headlines in major daily newspapers stating it would take $289 million to fix the Queen Mary or it will sink. He would like to call it “fake news” or “click bait” that followed a marine survey, commissioned by the ship’s former operator, Garrison Investment Group.

Zaharoni is the chief development officer of Urban Commons, the leasehold owner for the Queen Mary property. Structural renovations to the 83-year-old vessel are part of the $250 million master plan proposed by Urban Commons to the City of Long Beach. They believe the best way to make the ship financially viable is to beef up the 65 acres surrounding the ship with more dining, shopping, concerts and adventures. The company bought the Queen Mary lease in April 2016 for 66 years.

“The real number for repairs is closer to $50 million,” he said, which includes $23 million in financing approved by the city for immediate work and four percent of the ship’s $60 million annual revenue for the next 10 years.

He cited unrealistic “soft costs” of 70 percent in the $289 million estimate, when the typical cost is closer to 20-30 percent. Another $24 million was unrealistically added for a “dislocation fee” for Scottish engineers to perform the work, $17 million for coding versus $3.5 million actual and $21 million for demolition versus $4 million actual.

Zaharoni’s comments were made at the Rotary Club of Long Beach’s weekly luncheon meeting aboard the Queen Mary. When he said “The boat is going to be here for another 80 years and its going to be in good shape” the audience applauded.

“We’re committed to making it an icon of the Long Beach community,” he said. The Queen Mary is planned to be the centerpiece of an internationally known entertainment destination called Queen Mary Island, encompassing 45 acres of land and 21 acres of sea.

Improvements to the ship have been underway since April 2016 and painting of the ship is slated to begin on July 10.

With a goal of attracting more youngsters and in cooperation with the Long Beach Unified School District, some 3,000 students have or will soon partake in STEAM, a classroom for learning about science, technology, engineering, art and math.

Beginning June 4, in conjunction with the Harold Robinson Foundation, 100 underprivileged kids, their parents and police will participate in a 48-hour weekend designed to build self esteem. The program has been underway in Watts and Compton for the past six years.

Some features of the planned Queen Mary Island include:

  • A 2,400 foot boardwalk around the entire ship that will eventually extend to the Hotel Maya, Reef Restaurant and Queensway Bridge.
  • A boat landing with a 31-slip marina and space for eight mega-yachts
  • A 7,000 seat amphitheater in Queen Mary Park for live music envisioned to include 200 nights booked annually with significant names and beautiful views of the Long Beach skyline
  • 500,000 square feet of structures primarily devoted to entertainment, food and beverage, art, live music, energy and excitement
  • A first-of-its-kind in the United States 150,000 square foot “Urban Adventure” building with 20 different activities like kayaking, zip lining, sky diving, surfing, ice climbing wall, indoor canyon with waterfall, golf experience, trampoline park and more
  • A 200-room hotel to complement the 350 rooms currently on site
  • A gondola to the downtown area (such as Shoreline Village or the Aquarium) capable of handling 2,400 people per hour
  • Permanent jobs for at least 3,000 employees, not counting construction workers

Plans are for Queen Mary Island to be completed in 2023, just before the 2024 Olympics, should they be awarded to Los Angeles.

“Our vision is to be a destination like Disneyland and Universal Studios,” Zaharoni said. “This is a new day and our goal is to create entertainment for all ages.”


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