With only a single councilmember (Shipske) dissenting, Long Beach City Council moved forward Tuesday on creating an entirely new Civic Center and City Hall, approving a motion to prepare the RFP process for three finalist companies.

The vote follows an RFQ process that was initiated back in April to determine if any qualified firms existed to develop, construct, operate and maintain a new Civic Center, including a new City Hall and Main Library on the 16-acre area that currently includes the closed courthouse and various parking. Specifically, the city was interested in entering into a public-private-partnership (P3), similar to the bidding and building process that created the new Deukmejian Courthouse nearby.

“We can’t just let this meeting go unattended,” Assistant City Manager Suzanne Frick stated when the Council approved the RFQ process earlier this year, citing a 2005 seismic study that listed the ’70s-built structre as seismically unsound. “It’s basically functionally obsolete… This is a monolithic structure that is anti-pedestrian friendly in every way, shape, and form.”

Seven responses were received and this month City Management announced the three final RFQs selected: Related California, an Irvine firm that has done residential developments in Santa Monica; Plenary-Edgemoor Civic Partners, a partnership between the Plenary Group and Edgemoor Infrastructure and Real Estate, the former of which constructed the Deukmejian Courthouse; and Long Beach CiviCore Alliance, an LLC formed over the summer and backed by Macquarie Group, Lend Lease, Mar Ventures, Continental Development and PCL.

According to a City Manager’s report, the finalists were chosen based on “the RFQ submissions, previous experience with public projects of similar size and complexity, familiarity with Performance-Based Infrastructure, financial capacity and expertise related to both debt and equity, successful reference checks, interviews and overall quality and cohesiveness of team members.” An RFP would be ready to go out by early next year with responses being received by the end of 2014.

During public comment Tuesday, Long Beach community advocates and a local architect–who proposed his retrofitting dreams at events hosted by the American Institute of Architects as well as Long Beach Heritage–spoke against the plan to entirely tear down and rebuild the Civic Center, adamant that a door be opened for possible retrofitting.

“The [current Civic Center] is considered a prime example of the ideas of the Modern Movement…How can Long Beach even consider erasing these iconic structures?” said Maureen Neeley, a 3rd District resident. “We ask that you consider constructing the complete Civic Center that was originally designed in 1973… All the things we’ve talked about today we talked about 25, 30 years ago.”

Some estimates say that updating the existing structure could cost $170M. The Press-Telegram reported that estimates for an entirely new Civic Center could add up to about $230 million, not including parking garage or park renovations. The City currently pays $2.13M per year to house employees offsite because they cannot fit into the existing City Hall.

At the same time the RFQ was approved, City Council requested an updated seismic report, which was completed with what City Management says are similar findings. The complete updated seismic report, however, will not be available for a few weeks. 

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