Study Session to Examine Long Beach’s Massive $195M Broadway Block (Including Adapting Former Acres of Books into Restaurant & Marketplace)

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Renderings courtesy of Ratkovich Properties.

The Planning Commission is set to enact a study session that will examine the details and possibilities of the $195M Broadway Block project that could take up the eastern edge of Long Beach Blvd. between Broadway and 3rd Street (right next to the very uninspiring lofts being built at the northwest corner of Broadway and Elm in DTLB).

The massive project includes a 295-foot, 21-story high rise that will bring 187 new units in the Downtown along with a seven-story mid-rise that will bring 205 new residential units online.

In this space also 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.” Ratkovich boasts that the adaptive reuse of Acres of Books will prove to be the “first of its kind in DTLB.”

That one-of-a-kind project? Harkening to the building’s 1930s origins as an automobile showroom—with possible plans to refurbish it to the height of its old-school beauty—and convert it into a restaurant and a market with a large dining patio separating the two.

Details remain limited but echoes my suggestion that DTLB bring something similar to DTLA’s Grand Central Market inside one of its larger-but-abandoned spaces. (I proposed the former Walmart but this works just as well.)

According to proposals, 3,400 sq. ft. of the western portion of the building facing Long Beach Blvd. will be built out as a restaurant space while 6,200 sq. ft. of its western portion will be set aside for the market. In between these two space will be an open-air, 2,400 sq. ft. patio for shoppers and diners alike to share.

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

The 3rd Street portion will have a 21-story residential while the Broadway stretch will have a seven-story structure. Combined, the project will bring 392 residential units to the Downtown area (previously 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.

Even more, the project garnered attention last year for the fact that it would build affordable units for Cal State Long Beach graduate students in the structure aligned for Broadway. That 2,500 sq. ft.  for the university will be include an art gallery on top of housing space for the university’s arts faculty and students.

Updated 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 almost entirely 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 beginning of 2019.

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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.