Developers break ground on massive, $215M Broadway Block project in Downtown

The $215 million Broadway Block project, a multi-faceted development set to take up the eastern edge of Long Beach Boulevard between Broadway and Third Street, has officially broke ground and will bring one of the city’s largest developments to what has largely been an empty parking lot for decades.

The space is one of the most ambitious projects to come out of the Long Range Property Management Program in which the state legally required all cities to sell off their redevelopment properties after former Gov. Jerry Brown dissolved the redevelopment agencies across the state. The result of these property sales—161 parcels of land in total were sold in 2013—have varied, with some projects immediately breaking ground, like OceanAire, and others wading in the approval and funding territories that comes with larger developments, like this project.

Broadway Block, with its ambitious plans seeing an continual uptick in cost—it previously sat at a price tag of $154 million, then climbed to $195 million and, according to the latest estimates, sits at $215 million—has seen one of the more lengthier processes going from entitlement to breaking ground.

The property was transferred to Broadway Block LLC—a partnership between Ratkovich Properties LLC, Urbana LLC, and The Owl Companies—for $7.8 million in an unanimous vote during the Long Beach City Council meeting in July of 2016.

Canada-based developer Onni has taken the reigns from Broadway Block LLC and, according to Nathan Pitters of Onni, they plan to stick to the plans originally entitled with the project, including the adaptive reuse of the famed Acres of Books site (though details remain extremely sparse on what that adaptive reuse entails).

When Cliff Ratkovich of Ratkovich Properties was on board, he boasted that the adaptive reuse of Acres of Books will prove to be the “first of its kind in DTLB.” Judging from renderings, the Art Deco-style building will be a key component of its entry way along Long Beach Boulevard.

The project building at the southwest corner of Long Beach Blvd. and Broadway. Rendering courtesy of Ratkovich Properties.

The Third Street portion proposes a 21-story residential building while the Broadway stretch will have a seven-story structure. Combined, the project will bring 400 residential units to the Downtown area (up from the initial proposal of 375), with some 23,000 square feet of non-residential space running along the ground and second floors of both structures.

Even more, the project garnered attention in 2016 for the fact that it would build affordable units for Cal State Long Beach graduate students in the structure aligned for Broadway. However, updated information only includes that “performing arts space” for the university will be included. It still remains unclear if that this project will move forward with student housing.

Rendering courtesy of Ratkovich Properties.

The most recent renderings show the geometric rooftop of the pyramid-like façade of the southwest corner, mirrored squares that permit the plebeians to look up toward swimmers with jealousy and a sense of voyeurism, and a sea of mostly white folks. (Please work on that, renderers.)

Total parking requirements for the site are 511 spaces but 582 spaces, up from 524, are included in the current proposal.

A formal timeline for the project has not yet been set.

Brian Addison is a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or on social media at FacebookTwitterInstagram, and LinkedIn.

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