Mayor Robert Garcia discussing the newly unveiled plans for City Place September 2. Photo by Jason Ruiz, renderings courtesy of City Place.
Plans for the facelift that will transform currently unused storefronts at City Place into a mixed-use facility complete with shopping and upscale dining were revealed today at a press conference, held outside the old location of Nordstrom Rack.
Tony Shooshani, ownership representative for City Place Long Beach, Mayor Robert Garcia and members of the Long Beach-based design team that re-envisioned the retail space, Studio One Eleven, were on hand to detail the multi-million dollar makeover of the facility. It was also revealed that Studio One Eleven, a Perkowitz + Ruth studio, will become the anchor tenant on the south side of City Place facing the Promenade.
“They’re moving their headquarters—and I’m talking they have 120 architects—they’re moving their headquarters to this center to be the new anchor tenants for this new development and that is amazing,” Garcia said. “Anytime you have over 100 architects walking around in the downtown core that’s only going to be very good for the rest of downtown Long Beach.”
The four-year project that is set to play out over the course of the next three years will start with the redesign of the old Nordstrom Rack location that will house Studio One Eleven and a renovation of the adjacent parking structure. Building layouts are set to be more open and repositioned to make it more accessible from the North Promenade entrance. The street separating the two sides of retail will be closed to traffic to create a more pedestrian-friendly experience, complete with programming and entertainment opportunities.
Michael Bohn, a senior principal with the studio, said that the studio prides itself on creating vibrant and livable communities, so becoming a major tenant here is a good opportunity for Studio One Eleven to "practice what they preach." The key, however, will be redirecting traffic from the Promenade to the mouth of City Place and it will start with Harvey Milk Park.
“Harvey Milk Park is the key linchpin to get the office workers who are walking up the Promenade,” Bohn said. “We’re looking at ways to get the retail space to face the park. We want to have glass so people can eat outside and be in the park.”
Bohn wouldn’t disclose what businesses the studio is in discussions with because nothing has been finalized but he did say that three “high quality” restaurants have expressed a lot of interest in coming to City Place. The studio aims to make the structure more aligned with the rest of the city, incorporating metals, bricks and woods to give each tenant its own sense of identity, so Bohn said the studio won't be settling for just any company to fill the open slots.
“I want to be clear, we’re not just trying to get the basic kind of tenant or national tenant or what’s predictable,” Bohn said. “We’re looking for unique maker spaces, we’re looking for higher quality restaurants. We really want this to be a living room for the community that lives around this area.”
The rebranding effort will come complete with a new name that will be reached through a naming contest being put in conjunction with the Downtown Long Beach Associates. A public forum is set to launch on the DLBA’s website soon where members of the public can submit suggestions for the new downtown district.
The 350,000 square foot shopping center contains 37 retail sites and its positioning in the center of so many other developments in the city’s downtown area could make it game changing development for the city. Garcia said that all the activity around it—developments in North Pine, the Pike, the East Village and the future Civic Center—will all be “knit together” by the redevelopment of City Place.
“It links Pine to the East Village. It links the business on Ocean and the shore to North Pine,” Garcia said. “And so for all of downtown to really succeed, the central heart of downtown has to succeed as well. So, today is really about a rebirth of this incredible area.”