10:12am | Downtown Long Beach Associates chairman and Gladstone’s owner John Sangmeister has written a letter to the DLBA board members urging broad support of the Downtown Community Plan under consideration of the Long Beach City Council.
The Council in November voted to receive the Downtown Community Plan report, but extended the public comment period until mid-March so that housing advocates could complete a study that they say will benefit the Council's decision. It is expected to include concerns about raising rents and forcing current residents out.
The Downtown Community Plan is an effort to redevelop a one square-mile area of downtown Long Beach with massive residential, office and commercial space over the next 25 years.
Sangmeister, who pinned his request to a Wall Street Journal article published on Monday about cities like Detroit offering incentive packages to attract businesses. Detroit’s incentives include giving Blue Cross employees free annual passes to a public-transit system that connects its downtown buildings.
“I thought you might find the attached link from today's Wall Street Journal of interest,” Sangmeister’s letter states. “Councilmembers Patrick O'Donnell and James Johnson have asked for a review of city fees and efforts to support local businesses. Other cities have developed incentive programs to attract businesses to relocate to their communities. One way the City of Long Beach could enhance its appeal to new business recruitment and development is the adoption of the Community Plan proposed at last month's Council meeting. The city of Long Beach currently holds an unacceptably high 14.2% unemployment rate. The Community Plan and other job and investment promoting policies need our highest attention.”
The WSJ article states, “For decades, the suburbs benefited from companies seeking lower rent, less crime and a shorter commute for many workers. But now, office buildings in many city downtowns have stopped losing tenants or are filling up again even as the office space in the surrounding suburbs continues to empty, a challenge to the post-war trend in the American workplace and a sign of the economic recovery's uneven geography.”
The story credits in part incentives offered by downtowns, as well as progress made by downtowns in the last decade to become more gentrified and offering more actives in downtown. Downtown Long Beach was in the midst of aggressive efforts to attract businesses to the area, efforts that Sangmeister, it appears, wants to get back on track.