Within the next few years, Downtown Long Beach will be taller than ever, with towering new high rises forever changing the city’s landscape.
That was the message from Mayor Robert Garcia on Tuesday as he highlighted nearly six dozen construction projects on the way in a presentation called “Building a Better Long Beach.”
The projects, including several new hotels and high rises reaching beyond 40 stories, will bring businesses and thousands of new residential units.
“The Long Beach skyline is going to look very different five years from now,” Garcia said.
While most of the developments were already known, the mayor on Tuesday unveiled two new proposed projects that would have a major impact on the city.
The first is a planned development for the city-owned surface parking lot adjacent to the Long Beach Arena. The space, unofficially known has the “elephant lot” from the days of the Ringling Bros. Circus, is Long Beach’s largest parcel of undeveloped land.
Garcia said the city is now in the “visioning process” and is forming a group of community leaders to help decide best uses for the space. To give an idea of the scale, he said, the lot could easily fit the Staples Center, L.A. Live or a baseball field.
“It’s an enormously large, undeveloped parcel of land and it hasn’t been touched in a very long time,” he said.
The lot is in a designated Tidelands area, so any project would need approval form the California Coastal Commission. The city also must consider its current contract with the annual Jehovah’s Witnesses convention, which has rented the space through 2029.
The development of the elephant lot is part of a larger plan to rezone and develop the entire downtown coastal area south of Ocean Boulevard, the mayor said. The changes would put Long Beach on par with other waterfront cities, like San Diego.
“We need to do a better job of developing and embracing our waterfront,” Garcia said.
In another major announcement, the city is planning to construct a 40-story tower that would be the tallest building in Long Beach on the parking lot behind the World Trade Center.
The West Gateway/World Trade Center project at 600 Broadway would be a mixed-used space with nearly 700 residential units.
Garcia said the Port of Long Beach sold the land to Trammell Crow Company for development. The building, once finished, will add a dramatic touch to the city’s skyline.
“When people are driving over our beautiful new Gerald Desmond Bridge, it will be the first thing they see,” he said.
In an update on current projects, Garcia said Long Beach is a month away from breaking ground on what will be the tallest building in the city to date.
The Shoreline Gateway project at Ocean and Alamitos will include a 35-story East Tower just to the east of the Current.
Garcia said the 3rd + Pacific project for mixed-use residences will go before the planning commission within the next few months and will include a 23-story tower with 366 residential units.
The total construction boom, estimated at around $3.5 billion, will include 5,000 new residential units, of which 800 would be affordable housing.
Long Beach in the future will be a much denser city, which make for more affordable and walkable neighborhoods, Garcia said.
“If you drive around the city right now you’re seeing construction everywhere,” he said. “And in the future, you’re not going to see less construction, you’re going to see more.”