Long Beach is in the preliminary stages of designing a new rainbow-shaped structure to replace the Belmont Veteran’s Memorial Pier, at a preliminary cost of as much as $102 million, as the city works to revitalize the pier before the 2028 Olympics.

A memo released by the city this week said that an engineering firm is being brought in to study the design as the city works toward a final conceptual design, which could be completed by the end of this year.

The rainbow-shaped pier received positive responses from the community during the city’s visioning process that kicked off in February 2021. The double-decked design would create a swimming harbor within the rainbow’s arch and provide a lower-level fishing deck at the crest of the pier.

One of the reasons the design was supported by community members was because of its nostalgic shape that resembles the iconic Rainbow Pier that used to be located in Downtown. The structure would span from 39th Place to Termino Avenue.

But building it would be expensive.

Demolishing the old pier and building the rainbow-shaped replacement could cost as much as $86 million, according to a report published by a city consultant in August. Adding in restaurant and other retail space that community members said was important for any pier re-design would add another $16 million.

Those totals only include construction costs and leave out design and other regulatory processes before construction can begin.

The projected cost is more than double the city’s previous estimate of replacing the pier and would run about $26 million more than a plan that would renovate the existing pier. But a new pier could have a useful life expectancy that is twice as long (80 years) as a refurbished pier, according to the report.

An early rendering of the rainbow-shaped pier that shows the below deck fishing space and the interior harbor for swimming.

A number of state and federal grant opportunities are included at the end of the report, but no city funds are identified. The pier could qualify for Tidelands funds, which comes mostly from oil revenue, to fill in gaps—but that pot of money is already stretched thin.

The city’s efforts to replace the Belmont Pool complex that was torn down due to seismic issues already have a head start on the pier project. It’s already been given preliminary approval from the California Coastal Commission and city management said a financing plan for the $85 million project could be voted on by the City Council later this year.

The pool has an estimated $61 million in Tidelands funding set aside for it.

The pier and the pool were identified as priority projects in 2018 by Mayor Robert Garcia, who laid out a plan to improve the city’s airport, lifeguard towers and other areas ahead of the 2028 Olympic Games. Costly projects like the pier, which could serve as a viewing center for sailing events, and the Belmont Pool rebuild that could host diving events, were part of Garcia’s “8 by 28” initiative.

More community meetings could be held in the coming months as a refined version of the project is developed. The city’s Public Works department is bringing in an engineering firm to conduct studies on the rainbow-shaped design but the plan could evolve before it’s sent out for permitting.

It could require a lengthy list of approvals from state and federal agencies, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, California Coastal Commission, California State Lands Commission and others.

A timeline included in the report projected construction could be completed by June 2028, a few months before the Olympic Games.

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Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @JasonRuiz_LB on Twitter.