The five-story building at First Street and Elm Avenue that is planned to be the site for a new crime lab, office space and senior center. Photo by Jason Ruiz

Long Beach is buying a vacant Downtown building from Southern California Edison where it hopes to build a new police crime lab, administrative offices and a senior center.

The City Council approved the $21 million purchase Tuesday night to take control of the building at the corner of First Street and Elm Avenue. The five-story building includes three floors with about 91,400 square feet of office space and hundreds of parking spaces, some on the building’s rooftop.

City leaders said they planned to acquire the building to create a new crime lab to replace the old facility that is in West Long Beach as well as create new office space for the city’s Energy Resources Department.

The bottom floor is expected to contain a new senior center, which the city set money aside for earlier this year, as well as a restaurant and space for Health Department employees to provide services to seniors.

Renovating the building is expected to take another $23 million, with the city expected to finance $19.6 million through the sale of bonds, after the council’s approval Tuesday night. While the vote was unanimous, not everyone was fully on-board with the plan.

Karen Reside, president of the Long Beach Grey Panthers, a seniors advocacy group, said that seniors were not consulted on this project, which would move the Long Beach Senior Center from its current location on Fourth Street to Downtown.

“This building is very dark, and right now it’s a mess,” Reside said, adding that her group has concerns about the security of the area. “We’d like to know how many seniors were consulted about having a senior center at this particular location.”

City Manager Tom Modica said that the city was not able to do outreach during the negotiation period but it does plan to start those discussions with the senior community now that the city is moving forward with the purchase.

Modica said he was confident that the three entities planned for the building could coexist successfully, pointing out that there are private stairwells that lead to the upper floors where the office space and crime lab would be.

The $4 million the city pledged toward renovating the existing senior center would be better spent renovating the new building because the existing building on Fourth Street is in such poor condition, he said.

Renovations on the building are projected to take as long as 24 months, according to a city presentation. The current lease on the existing crime lab is set to expire in April 2026.

Long Beach could pay $21M for Downtown building to use as crime lab, senior center

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