Civic Center RFQ Released; Seeks Public-Private Partnership for New City Hall, Library, Lincoln Park

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Today the City of Long Beach announced the release of a Request for Qualifications for a possible new civic center, moving forward on a February approval by City Council to gather ideas about how to replace the aging complex through a public-private partnership that may also include private development and a permanent Port of Long Beach headquarters.

The RFQ is open to any developer with a plan to finance, design, construct and operate a new City Hall, Main Library and Lincoln Park, all of which were build in the mid-’70s on a nearly 15-acre mega block off of Ocean Blvd. in Downtown Long Beach.

According to the City, consideration of building a new civic center complex is warranted not only because of its “functional obsolescence,” poor street visibility and lack of after-hours vitality, but also because of more than $170 million in seismic deficiencies that were discovered during a 2006 study conducted by the Department of Public Works.

“Quite frankly, our Civic Center design lacks human scale, is difficult to access and does little to assert the importance and value of the public realm,” said 2nd District Councilmember Suja Lowenthal. “This project is worth considering because a new Civic Center would emphasize a mixed-use, walkable environment that is more compatible with the existing urban fabric and small block development of the Downtown core.”

The project site to be developed includes the land where the current Lincoln Park, City Hall and Main Library now sit as well as the soon-to-be vacant old courthouse–which was acquired in a land swap with the State in 2010–and a small parcel off of 3rd St. and Pacific Ave. that is currently being used as a parking lot.

The Long Beach Civic Center shortly after opening in 1978.

Main goals of the project are to redevelop the Civic Center by rebuilding City Hall and the Main Library while revitalizing Lincoln Park and creating more connectivity between these elements and surrounding civic amenities not included in this proposal (such as the Long Beach Police Department headquarters and the new Deukmejian State Superior Courthouse). Optional is the inclusion of a permanent headquarters for the Port of Long Beach in conjunction with the new City facilities.

Ideally, the RFQ says that City Hall and the Main Library would remain within the boundaries of the Civic Center as it currently exists, however, options to place them both somewhere else in Downtown may be considered. A revitalized Lincoln Park must remain in its current location due to “underlying irrevocable deed restrictions.”

Requirements also stipulate that the plans maintain adequate parking now provided by the Broadway and Lincoln Park parking structures (around 1500 spaces) and incorporate the vision of a more mixed-use Downtown as outlined in the Downtown Plan adopted last year. City Hall operating costs should also not exceed the current operating costs of $12.6 million.  

As a benefit to interested developers, the RFQ also states that the project “may also provide opportunities for private development on property not needed to fulfill the goals of this Solicitation.”

“This project represents an opportunity to replace aging infrastructure through creative public/private financing mechanisms at little to no additional cost,” said Mayor Bob Foster.

The RFQ closes on July 26 and a short list of proposals will be announced sometime in August. A Request for Proposals would go out possibly later this year, but all future dates beyond the RFQ are still undetermined.

The City will hold a meeting to introduce the project to interested parties on June 5, 2013. Details regarding the introductory meeting will be provided to interested parties who indicate their intent to participate. More information about the new Civic Center RFQ can be found at www.lbds.info.

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City of Long Beach RFQ Civic Center Project

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Sarah Bennett is a contributor to the Hi-lo and the editor-at-large at the Long Beach Post. She is also a professor at Santa Ana College where she was once a student before transferring to USC to earn her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Sarah has written about music, art, food and beer in local, national and international publications for over a decade. An L.A. native and longtime resident of Long Beach, she is the co-founder of Long Beach Zine Fest and managing editor at theLAnd magazine. She never sleeps.
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