Jessica Cejnar / Thursday, July 23 @ 5:03 p.m. / Local Government, Ocean
Pucci Foods Takeover of Alber Building Progresses; Crescent City Harbor Commissioners Approves Lease Transfer
Harbor commissioners approved transferring a lease from one seafood processor to another, though a receivership process must be finished before they can negotiate terms.
Hayward-based Pucci Foods expects to take over the lease at 161 Starfish Way, potentially bringing 20 full-time jobs to Crescent City.
A court-appointed receiver for the current tenant, Alber Seafood, has reached an agreement with Pucci Foods to accept the lease, according to Autumn Luna, the Crescent City Harbor District’s legal counsel.
Pacific County Superior Court in Washington must ratify the lease before both parties can discuss its terms, Luna told harbor commissioners Tuesday.
“We have a lease with Alber Seafood right now,” she said. “We can’t negotiate with Pucci Foods about a lease that doesn’t belong to them. This is a necessary step in that process.”
In May, Alber Seafood filed for receivership in Pacific County Superior Court in Washington. The court-appointed receiver in the case, Turnford Restructuring, expects the court’s final ruling in the Alber receivership case by the end of August, according to a Harbor District staff report.
Transferring the lease from one seafood processor to another doesn’t change its terms, Luna said. Pucci Food’s lease with the Harbor District will be month-to-month. Luna said negotiating new terms for the lease isn’t appropriate currently.
Once the court has approved the lease transfer, Crescent City Harbormaster Charlie Helms said he would be the lease negotiator with Pucci Foods.
According to Luna, the Harbor District’s lead counsel, Bob Black, recommended two commissioners to assist with negotiations.
Pucci Foods has been operating in the Bay Area since 1918 and is looking to expand to Crescent City, upgrading the 17,523 square-foot structure to meet food processing standards set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Del Norte County Environmental Health Division. According to the Harbor District’s staff report on Tuesday, Pucci Foods hopes to be operating by the Dungeness crab season, which starts Dec. 1.
“Part of our goal is to provide a long-term sustainable product,” said Pucci Foods CEO Chris Lam.
Though the staff report mentioned the Dungeness crab fishery, Lam brought up recent changes NOAA made to the rockfish quota.
“It’s the right timing for us to participate in this,” he said.
Harbor commissioners began discussing Pucci Foods’ efforts to take over the Alber Seafood building in June. At the time, Helms broached the possibility of giving the Hayward-based processor a 10-15 year credit on their rent since Pucci Foods would foot the bill for bringing the building up to modern standards.
According to Helms, though half of the building’s roof is new, the building is 50 years old and would require about $400,000 in repairs to make it “passable.”
Alber Seafood had paid $4,511.71 per month in rent, according to the port’s lease. Alber Seafood had paid a total of $263,176 in lease payments for the building since 2015, but owes the Harbor District about $13,000 in back lease payments.
At the Harbor District’s June 16 meeting, Helms said if the sale goes through, the Harbor District will be receive the outstanding lease payments from Alber Seafood.