Activate a Diamond in the Rough: RFP Released for Design of Temporary Space at Ocean & Pine in DTLB • Long Beach Post

Photo by Sean Warner/DLBA.

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In its glory days, the intersection of Pine and Ocean in DTLB was bustling. At its peak—which is sadly in the 1920s and 30s—Pine & Ocean was seeing some 4,000 cross the intersection per hour on the weekend. That is a number we could only hope for in a single day in 2015.

This is why the Downtown Long Beach Associates (DLBA) is partnering with the City of Long Beach and Vice Mayor Lowenthal and releasing a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the design and construction of a temporary outdoor public space at the southeast corner of Ocean Blvd. and Pine Ave., where the Jergins Trust Building used to be.

The area is key in regard to connectivity, given that it exists as the clearest crossroad of linkages between historic Pine Avenue, the Pike development, the Aquarium, the Promenade, the Convention Center, and the waterfront. The cogs of DTLB, hence why this intersection once was the link to a bourgeoning downtown scene and now creates a disconnect, one that has been discussed and studied.

“An activated corner could serve as a transitional focal point for conventioneers and tourists, while giving the city and business district a creative and evolving space that captures Long Beach’s spirit of innovation.”

After the Long Beach Land and Water Company became owners of Willmore Town (named after W.E. Willmore, the projector of the colony scheme) and officially named our city Long Beach, development sparked: a hotel was built between Pacific Park and the beach on the bluff, prompting an old horse-driven cart that connected Long Beach with Wilmington to be replaced by a spur of the Southern Pacific Railroad. This caused the town to boom—as Alan Burks of Environ Architecture once said, “It was the beginning of Long Beach”—leading to the building of the once-iconic Jergins Trust Building.

This building, sitting on the southeast corner of Pine and Ocean, became an essential development attraction. Then-councilmember Alexander Beck even created a tunnel in 1927—which still exists—that went under Ocean and connected to the building, where businesses existed in the tunnel selling goods while people passed.

Jergins Trust was a key part of fostering what became the wildly popular Pike, a stretch along Seaside Way that even went through Jergins western sister, the Ocean Center Building (which one can view the former Seaside Way’s tunnel through the building when facing either the west or east side of the building’s façade). In 1985, however, the destruction of the building sparked what many feel was the beginning of the downturn of downtown. Urban legend holds that the city itself cheered on its destruction when, in fact, it fought it: the owner of the building’s original request for a demolition permit was denied but, after claiming he simply could not afford a refurbishment, the city then granted the permit.

Hopefully, that can now all be in the past.

“The RFP process will allow us to identify a talented and innovative firm to partner with in transforming the corner of Pine and Ocean into a social and economic hub for DTLB,” said Sean Warner, Placemaking Manager for the DLBA, in a press release. “We look forward to working with the chosen entity, the City, residents, and businesses on remaking the space into a place that represents the ideals of Downtown Long Beach.”

The DLBA and City have committed a minimum of $120,000 toward the design and construction of this temporary space. The chosen entity would carry out these major tasks:

  • Design and configuration of space and proposed amenities.
  • Coordination and implementation of necessary infrastructure and utilities to accommodate proposed uses.
  • Logistics of erecting structure(s) and compliance with necessary permits, local and state laws.
  • Future phasing – suggested plan for additional phases or expansion of pop-up space.

“An activated corner could serve as a transitional focal point for conventioneers and tourists, while giving the city and business district a creative and evolving space that captures Long Beach’s spirit of innovation,” said Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal, who has long been an advocate for utilizing inactivated spaces throughout DTLB.

To read the full RFP, click here.

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