Overriding appeal, City Council moves forward with massive development in Downtown

The City Council has decided to deny an appeal that challenged the legality of a major development at the northeast corner of Pacific Avenue and Third Street.

A group known as the Supporters Alliance for Environmental Responsibility attempted to appeal the decision by the Planning Commission in September on grounds that the the project failed to meet the standards set forth by the Downtown Plan.

Adopted in 2012, the Downtown Plan is the guiding document for all development in the Downtown area. Given the plan is CEQA-approved, as long as a development fits within the guidelines, no group can file a lawsuit against it—that is, unless it violates that plan.

With a lengthy and verbose rebuttal, representatives from the alliance group made claims about everything from formaldehyde pollution to height issues, but was swiftly shot down by Councilmember Jeannine Pearce, who motioned to have the denial of the appeal approved.

“I understand many of the concerns you raise but the ultimate question of this item is: Does the project comply with the Downtown Plan?” Pearce said. “And, as staff tells us, this project clearly does.”

Pearce went on to say that the group’s concerns are with the rules of the Downtown Plan and attacking a single project won’t change the plan itself.

Courtesy of Ensemble.

The project, headed by Ensemble, will look to create two pieces of mixed-use development: a 23-story tower and an accompanying eight-story building which, combined, will create 345 residential units, 14,481 square feet of retail space, 563 parking spaces, and 128 bicycle parking spaces.

Ensemble is no stranger to the development game in Long Beach, with its Sonata development on Seaside Way almost complete and its sister Seaside project, Serenade, ready for tenants.

For now dubbed 3rd+Pacific, it is unquestionably the company’s largest project, which has undergone alterations over the past few years after the lot at 113 W. Third St. was sold to the development group after the state dictated that all municipalities sell their redevelopment lots. The tallest building was originally proposed as a 21-story high rise while the smaller building was originally proposed as a six-story building and then as a seven-story structure. Also, 370 residential units were being proposed initially.

One of the most intriguing aspects of the project includes the vacation of the paseo between the buildings, what we now know as the alley that is West Roble Way. It will be cleared and turned into a complete street, with new lighting, pedestrian amenities, and what developers are hoping will become a food-centric space for both residents and visitors.

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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