Fresh Renderings for Massive 36-Story Hotel Project in Downtown Long Beach

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While the Long Beach City Council had approved a project set to develop the three-decade-long empty lot at the southeast corner of Ocean and Pine in DTLB well over a year ago, there’s been an upgrade: originally a 25-story mixed-use hotel development to be headed by China-owned, Seattle-based American Life, Inc., is now a 36-story building (and could surpass the Shoreline Gateway as the tallest building in the city should both be built).

Of course, this all depends on a lot of contingencies.

And while smaller projects—like Parc Broadway and OceanAire—have finally broken ground and began building, other projects like the Seaside Way developments linked below and the Broadway Block development remain the same as they did when they were sold nearly two years ago.

Formerly home to the Jergins Trust Building, the Ocean and Pine property I’m highlighting sold for $7M. American Life ousted Long Beach-based developer Ensemble—much to my agreement.

Ensemble has taken on two residential developments that lack density and height: a five-story building at 247 Seaside and another five-story stub at 442 Ocean.

While Ensemble’s bid for the site remains a mystery, what American Life could bring to the table is impressive: over 500 hotel rooms, 19,000 sq. ft. of prep space and meeting rooms, 8,000 sq. ft. of restaurant space and 28,000 sq. ft. of guest amenities, including a pool and sun deck. Even more, the project is also expected to incorporate a portion of Victory Park, which is now home to slowly dilapidating, once-awesome Loop as well as provide 361 long-term jobs and 1,701 short-term jobs.

And what is on everyone’s mind, the Jergins Tunnel? The developer has agreed to incorporate the tunnel into its design somehow, providing public access to the long-shuttered but much-revered tunnel.

“This particular site is extremely important to the City of Long Beach,” said former Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal during the time the project was approved. “This is a site that we have protected and guarded, and wanted to make sure that we waited for a development opportunity that allows it to be somewhat of a jewel in the crown.”

There’s an interesting caveat to the whole deal: it hinges on a transient occupancy tax (TOT) agreement where the City shares part of that tax with the developer. The amount? 50%. That’s right: American Life will keep 50% of the TOT revenue, or what is estimated to provide the development with some $27M over a 20-year period. The reason? To fill an “economic gap” of about $47M between the estimated cost of construction and the value of the future development.

Should the City disagree with the hotel brand chosen to represent the space, the contract can be terminated (and let’s hope we don’t get an empty lot for another 30 years).

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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.