Ho-Hum, Another Young OC Bizman Has Wild Queen Mary Plans

You may recall that Newport Beach developer Jeff Klein, whose company Save the Queen bought the lease for the city of Long Beach-owned Queen Mary in November 2007 after the previous operator went bankrupt, couldn't meet his financial obligations and had to let his principal investor, Garrison Investment Group, take over Save the Queen earlier this year.

Klein had plans for a hotel/retail/office/entertainment complex right next to the iconic, permanently docked vessel. Now another young Orange County businessman has come forward with grand plans to make the Queen seaworthy again.

Robert Sides III, president and CEO of Fountain Valley-based The Queen's Project, tells the Long Beach Press-Telegram he'd like his concern to purchase the ship, remove the jetty surrounding it, tow it to San Francisco, dry dock it there for 48 months, renovate it at a cost estimated between $950 million to $1.5 billion and then have it cruise the world from its Long Beach base. The Queen Project is an offshoot of Las Vegas entertainment company Cairngorm Entertainment Group.  

The 73-year-old Queen's hull is a nightmare, the stacks are too unstable to keep and it will require a new engine, new propellers and more than a million new rivets to make it ship-shape again, concedes Sides. But he remains optimistic despite the huge job, costs and recessionary times, telling the P-T's Paul Eakins by email, "Yes we are talking about a lot of money, but look in the future and look at what we will achieve. The reasoning why company after company has failed is because no-one has thought outside the box and no one has prepared for the undertaking the Queen Mary really is."

While contemplating whether what the Queen Mary really is--a bag of bolts? A tub of rust? A baby's arm holding an apple?--city officials are quick to note that Garrison controls the lease to operate the ship through 2061. The New York company has remained mum about its future.

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