The former Verizon building at Ocean Boulevard and Pacific Avenue was supposed to be converted into an 11-story mixed-use project—and while early construction began on the project, a lack of funding and litigation has put the project into a state of emergency.
The project—recently hailed by Mayor Robert Garcia at this year’s development forum—was working with a preliminary structural permit, which allowed demolition and structural modifications before scoring full building permits.
With the entitlement for the development set to expire on Dec. 31, getting those building permits is key; otherwise, the project would have to go through a lengthy and costly entitlement process all over—after being purchased by Milan Capital Management in 2015, it was entitled that same year—an unlikely case given a new buyer would not likely take on that time and risk.
A lawsuit from Rachel Jin, one of the projects lead investors, didn’t help matters: She accused two other investors and a slew of limited liability companies of multiple crimes, including breach of contract and fiduciary responsibilities as well as fraud and other allegations.
And in a case where money is needed more than anything, it could mean the project’s downfall.
“Each side’s attorneys are talking to one another and they both realize that continued fighting is only going to make them lose more money,” said Jan Van Dijs, a local construction manager who has been hired to get the building permits pushed forward.
According to Van Dijs, there are two working parts of the project as of now: On one hand, attorneys are working together to qualify and negotiate a sale for a potential buyer. On the other, Van Dijs is working with the city to garner building permits so that the potential buyer no longer has to worry about the entitlement expiring.
“The ultimate goal is to find a buyer, provide that buyer with full entitlements so construction can start back up immediately upon the completion of the sale, and not have the building sit empty in Downtown Long Beach,” Van Dijs said.
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