Demolition crews could finish knocking down an abandoned East Long Beach building by June, clearing the site for a proposed 73-unit affordable housing project that could begin construction in early 2025.

Directors for the city’s Community Investment Company on Wednesday approved a contract to have a demolition company knock down the building at 4151 E. Fountain St., which is near Bryant Elementary School. The city-owned site previously served as a home for troubled youth but has been vacant since 2015.

Long Beach is prioritizing demolition at the site because the current structures are causing health hazards and blight with people illegally entering the building and vandalizing it, city officials said.

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The city approved plans to build an affordable housing project last year, but the developer, Linc Housing, is still waiting on state tax credits that will help finance the project. Those funds are expected to be awarded later this year, and if Linc’s application is chosen, construction could start in February.

Residents who live near the site showed up to a Planning Commission meeting earlier this month in hopes of blocking the redevelopment. The project would create affordable units for families and those with special needs. If built, the units would be set aside for households making between 30% and 70% of next year’s area median income.

This year in Los Angeles County, that amounts to between $35,750 and $83,416 for a family of four.

Residents’ concerns ranged from the effect that the project would have on parking and the flow of traffic, which is already compromised by vehicles trying to pick up and drop off students at Bryant. Others were concerned that the project would be a “homeless project” located near their homes.

“I want you to know that not only is this an unpopular decision, this is the wrong decision,” resident David Lake said during the Feb. 1 meeting.

Long Beach’s director of community development, Christopher Koontz, told the crowd that the project had been approved in 2023 under the city’s emergency declaration for homelessness.

The project proposes a mix of one, two and three-bedroom units with most of the apartments having one bedroom (36). It would also include 16 two-bedroom units and 21 three-bedroom units as well as a children’s play area and outdoor common spaces like a wooden deck.

A quarter of the units will be reserved for people with special needs, according to plans submitted to the city by Linc.

The sale is expected to be finalized if Linc is awarded its tax credits, something that’s anticipated to be announced in August. City planning officials said the sale price will likely be $5.7 million.

After repeated break-ins and police calls at the abandoned Fountain Street property, the city is trying to speed up the demolition at other projects in the works, according to Meggan Sorensen, the city’s bureau manager of housing and neighborhood services.

Sorensen pointed to a project in the California Heights neighborhood where the city is purchasing an empty commercial building to replace it with affordable housing. She said once the sale is complete there will be a plan to demolish that building within six months.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to add more clarity about who the housing is intended for.

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