The Long Beach City College board of trustees approved a plan Wednesday that could speed up the construction of an affordable student housing project in North Long Beach and a new Veterans Stadium—assuming the college is able to secure funding.

If the projects move forward, the trustees’ vote would allow the campus to forego the bidding process after a design is completed. Instead, they would be able to use a “design-build” process that would pair a contractor with an architectural team—something officials said could save the college time and potentially, money.

Hakim Chambers, the college’s bond program director, said it could also provide more certainty for the overall cost as the college could get a guaranteed maximum price.

“You have a recipe that’s provided, they can decide if it’s a two-layer cake based upon the ingredients and the price available to them,” Chambers said of the “design-build” process. “And they all compete to provide that best cake.”

Pipes lie on a lot next to the Michelle Obama Library will be transferred empty land to LBCC.
A lot at 59th Street and Atlantic Avenue, next to the Michelle Obama Library could be transferred to LBCC, which hopes to build affordable housing in North Long Beach, Monday, May 8, 2023. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

Because there would be a maximum price locked in, Chambers said it would put pressure on the construction team to finish on time and on budget because the college would only be liable for the agreed-upon price, unless the college decided to change the designs mid-project.

However, funding still needs to be secured for these projects.

LBCC’s Board of Trustees is contemplating a $990 million bond measure for next November’s election to pay for both construction proposals. The board is expected to decide by August whether it’s going to place the bond measure before voters next year.

The bonds would raise property taxes for property owners within LBCC’s district by $25 for every $100,000 of assessed value. The district includes Long Beach, Signal Hill, Avalon and Lakewood.

In 2022, the board decided against putting a much smaller $285 million bond measure on the ballot because of inflation and other factors leading to the measure not polling well with likely voters.

Bob Rapoza, the college’s director of business support services, said that the college has used the design-build approach in the past to complete the recently opened Building M and a parking structure.

It’s estimated that if the projects move forward, the design-build approach could see them open up several months sooner. Trustees were supportive of the approach with some sharing their excitement of the long-planned affordable housing project finally moving forward.

“This is a population that deserves more service and I’m so glad we’re going to do that,” said Trustee Virginia Baxter about the North Long Beach housing project.

Long Beach City College is seeking hundreds of millions of dollars to replace dated Veterans Memorial Stadium. Thursday, July 7, 2022. Photo by Brandon Richardson.

Baxter noted that this project could give the college learned experience of being a housing provider before it potentially builds more student housing, something the college has indicated it would like to do at its Liberal Arts Campus if funding becomes available.

LBCC has been in discussions with the city to acquire three parcels of land near the Michelle Obama Library, where it hopes to build a 36-bed affordable housing project that would include educational spaces, a food pantry and other student services.

The projected cost to build that is about $32.3 million, according to the college.

The much larger project, the demolition of Veterans Stadium and building a new 10,000-seat stadium, is projected to cost $250 million. The new facility would also include new locker rooms, training areas, team meeting spaces and other amenities.

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