Second+PCH Project (Again) Possibly Back (Again)


It is the business project that refuses to go down without a fight -- and in this case, we're going on round three of the boxing battle between developers eying to renovate and re-imagine a major corner in Long Beach and the environmental and community opponents attempting to avoid its construction.

The Second+PCH project's rise from round two of battle -- it was last shot down 4-3 by the Council back in December, the project proclaimed as "dead" by its San Diegan co-developer, David Malmuth -- comes at a key time when the City has been recommended for a $929,000 grant that will amend the Southeast Area Development and Improvement Plan (SEADIP). SEADIP is essentially the guiding blueprint adopted in 1977 that permits what can and cannot be built in a wetlands area (in this case, the Seaport Marina-occupied corner of Second Street and Pacific Coast Highway). The revise will include studies that examine the area as a whole, ranging from environmental to traffic considerations, and could potentially change the game for the seemingly unending and undead project.

Originally the dream child of Malmuth, who had for years saw the project through public debates, community and business outreach, and its two deaths, Second+PCH aimed to alter the dilapidated corner into a retail-resident sprawl that was to cost some $320 million. It's most controversial aspect was the proposed building of a 12-story tower in an area whose zoning only permits 35-foot high structures. Wetlands activists and preservationists insisted that the project -- which would bring a heavy increase in traffic -- would further exacerbate the problems the wetlands already faces with regards to pollution and human impedance upon its natural flow. Several outside community members, particularly those lining Seal Beach's Main Street strip, felt the project would drive customers and business away from their market niche.

The supporters, on the other side, consistently refer to the sad state of the corner and the need to drive up business within Naples and Belmont Shore. Even further, the 35-foot limit opens way for "box stores," the pejorative term for all-inclusive shopping stores like Wal-Mart -- something that the affluent residents of the area feel will dampen the gentrification process.

It is unclear if Malmuth's original vision will come into play but Tom Modica, the city's director of Government and Strategic Affairs, has confirmed that an application for a site plan review has been received in regards to the possible retail development of the Seaport Marina area. However, with these pending amendments to SEADIP, this project could face (yet again) a lengthy span of stagnant growth.

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