The Long Beach Community College District and the city will officially begin negotiations in September over a vacant lot in North Long Beach that the college hopes to develop into affordable student housing.

A negotiation window that could last over a year will begin next month after the City Council approved the talks Tuesday night. The council authorized an initial 240-day window for the college to assess if the site is viable for a 36-bed affordable housing project the college is seeking to build and to prove that it has the finances to pay for it.

The city and the college could extend that window by up to 180 days.

Long Beach declared the three parcels of land just north of the Michelle Obama Library as surplus in May ahead of negotiations with plans for the college to potentially develop it.

The proposed housing project would be three stories tall and include educational spaces, a food pantry and other student services. Earlier this year, a college spokesperson said that the project was estimated to cost about $32.3 million.

Expanding the college’s footprint into North Long Beach is a strategic step by LBCC as it tries to engage a population that it says is difficult to reach because of its distance from both its campuses in the city.

LBCC does have $89 million leftover from a previous bond measure that the college had earmarked for renovations for Veterans Stadium, however, LBCC’s board of trustees is considering asking voters to approve a new bond measure in 2024 that could deliver an additional $990 million to the college for campus improvements and the construction of affordable student housing.

College officials have indicated that affordable housing is something they want to pursue, and a larger 421-bed facility at the college’s Liberal Arts Campus could be something LBCC would undertake in the future. That project was estimated to cost $103 million; the college had applied for state funding but did not receive it.

The proposed housing project in North Long Beach would be located just a block away from a higher education center that the college also plans to operate. The center, which the council authorized the college to begin using Tuesday, will include a computer lab and offer some non-credit courses and other services like small business advising.

LBCC’s board of trustees is expected to vote by August 2024 on whether to place the ballot measure before voters in the November 2024 election. If passed, it would increase property taxes by $25 for every $100,000 of assessed value.

LBCC explores $990 million bond measure to pay for future construction

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