Plans for massive Broadway Block development continue to inch forward

The $195 million Broadway Block project, a multi-faceted development set to take up the eastern edge of Long Beach Boulevard between Broadway and Third Street, continues to inch toward tangibility: Developers will go before the Planning Commission this week asking to vacate an alley.

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 and others wading in the approval territory that comes with larger developments.

Broadway Block is part of the latter group, with its ambitious plans seeing an uptick in cost—it previously sat at a price tag of $154 million and has climbed, according to last estimates, to $195 million—and lengthier approval process.

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

Currently in this space sits the revered-but-shuttered Acres of Books, which developer Cliff Ratkovich of Ratkovich Properties said would not only be adaptively reused for the project but also brought into the project “to create a one-of-a-kind culture and spirit.” The other part of the 50,000 square-foot space was mainly used as a parking lot.

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

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 392 residential units to the Downtown area (up from the initial proposal of 375), 5,773 square feet of creative office space, 3,873 square feet of flex space, 6,012 square feet of loft space, 1,311 square feet of ArtExchange space and 3,200 square feet of university space.

Rendering courtesy of Ratkovich Properties.

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.

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 524 spaces are included in the current proposal.

Construction was expected to begin summer of 2018 but has now been pushed to the the fall of 2019.

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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Brian Addison has been a writer, editor, and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food and culture to transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 16 nominations and two additional wins for Best Political Commentary for his work at KCET and Best Blog for Longbeachize, a section of the Long Beach Post. Brian currently serves as a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post.