The Long Beach City Council approved $1 million this week to pay for ongoing repairs on the Queen Mary, the latest round of funds meant to restore the aging tourist attraction.
The converted British ocean liner, owned by the city, was in use as a museum, hotel, restaurant and event space before it was closed to the public in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Before the closure, the permanently docked ship was in disrepair and in danger of sinking without urgent maintenance work, inspectors found.
The Queen Mary’s partial reopening, previously set for October, is scheduled for the end of this year.
Since 2017, studies have estimated the ship needs as much as $289 million in renovations and upgrades to keep parts of it from flooding. According to inspection reports released last year by city-hired marine engineering firm Elliott Bay Design Group, the Queen Mary needs $23 million in immediate repairs to prevent it from capsizing.
The task of getting the ship into shape began this year when the City Council approved $5 million for crucial repairs, including the removal of deteriorating lifeboats that had been putting stress on the ship’s support system, creating “severe cracks.” The lifeboats were set to be dismantled after a bidding process to identify preservationists or historical groups to restore them failed.
The ship’s previous operator, Eagle Hospitality Trust, filed for bankruptcy protection in January 2021 and surrendered its lease agreement in June of that year after defaulting on several provisions of the lease, including failure to maintain the aging ship, the city said.
The city entered a new agreement with Evolution Hospitality in June and has already spent $2.8 million of city funds for plumbing repairs, a new Wi-Fi connection, handrail restoration and energy-efficient lightbulbs, and work has begun on the ship’s boilers and heat exchangers, the city said in a report submitted to the council this week.
The $1 million approved in a 5-0 vote Tuesday is expected to pay for repairs to the ship’s linoleum flooring and carpet, refrigerators, elevators and kitchen exhaust hoods, which filter heat, smoke and grease while cooking. Guest room locks, which have been known to malfunction, will also be replaced, the report said.
The costs are expected to be offset by revenue already generated from special events and filming on the ship, the city said.
Before the pandemic, the ship generated $3.3 million in tax revenues annually from its operation as a hotel, a venue for concerts and festivals, and as a film location.
The ship has been used as a filming location for period pieces such as “Pearl Harbor” and “The Aviator,” along with television series including “Baywatch” and “Charlie’s Angels.” Recently, the event space in the ship’s shadow has hosted popular music festivals such as Tropicália Music & Taco Fest.
Source: LA Times