The owners of the historic Queen Mary in Long Beach announced plans for "Queen Mary Island," a new $250 million all-inclusive entertainment destination that would surround the iconic ship. The proposed 65-acre project would stretch along the bay front and pay homage to the Golden Age of the luxury liner.

Urban Commons, the Los Angeles-based real estate investment and development firm that owns the vessel, submitted its plans for the "island" to the city of Long Beach last week. The company says the development would "bring to life a curated collection of music, entertainment, dining, retail and adventure offerings that take full advantage of the coastal setting."

The new Queen Mary Island, designed in association with Gensler, will be a self-contained destination with landscapes, amenities and recreational experiences to provide something for everyone. The project team envisions several creative entry points by land, water and air, with a main lobby plaza off the freeway that will be "reminiscent of a bygone era through distinct architectural and design details." From there, guests can stroll down a 2,400-ft long boardwalk past the marina, cafes and bars, eclectic retail shops and a 200-room hotel, all-encompassing nearly 700,000 sq-ft of retail space in total, until they reach a grand outdoor amphitheater.

Steven Upchurch, managing director and principal at Gensler, told me that at the heart of the project site, the Queen Mary will remain the "main attraction," as they "make this island a true destination for locals and tourists alike." 

Upchurch says respecting the architectural character and significance of the Queen Mary’s overwhelming presence on this waterfront site was a priority. "Every effort has been made in the development of the Urban Village’s architecture to authentically express the materiality of the iconic ship as well as the seaport villages and industrial ports that it once visited – particularly South Hampton."

The ship, which celebrated the 80th anniversary of its maiden voyage last year, was built by master craftsmen at the Clydebank shipyards in Scotland, and launched in 1936 from South Hampton, England. The vessel helped take a nation out of depression, was instrumental as a WWII transport ship, and transformed ocean travel into a luxurious star-studded affair.

To keep the spirit of this era alive, Upchurch says materials for the waterfront Urban Village are resilient – reinforcing and enhancing the industrial port architectural theme.  "These include exposed brick, iron, stone, timber, industrial lighting and glass," he says. "A significant focus has been in the development of authentic details including expression of the structure of the buildings and capitalizing on the creation of unique spaces and places that express a connection to the past."

The project will also get assistance from London-based Urban Legacies, an  international leisure, entertainment and hospitality company. They will create Urban Adventure, a multi-activity concept with a slew of hi-energy experiences under one roof in a 150,000-sq-ft facility on Queen Mary Island. Visitors can expect approximately 20 interactive and experiential activities ranging from California’s first indoor ice climbing wall to surfing, canyoning, skydiving, zip lining, a trampoline park and more.