New Belmont Pier concepts unveiled as city hopes to complete construction by 2028

Long Beach on Thursday revealed early designs of what could replace the current Belmont Pier, with one of the more popular concepts harkening back to the 1930s and the city’s iconic Rainbow Pier.

All of the concepts presented by Westgroup Designs, the firm working with the city during the visioning process, include similar amenities like concessions, separated fishing facilities, pedestrian walkways and opportunities for performance spaces and future restaurant space.

A more simple T-shaped concept could use some of the existing pier infrastructure and have the least impact on the existing parking lot. It could reconnect the pier to the city’s Aqualink water-taxi service with a new loading dock and would maintain the history of the pier, according to the development team that presented the concepts at a community meeting Thursday night.

Several other more-expensive options could reimagine the pier as a winding, “organic” version of itself while shifting its entrance to Termino Avenue. Another could see the pier transformed into a shape reminiscent of the Big Dipper constellation with entrances on both Termino Avenue and 39th Place.

However, the idea that drew the most positive comments during the presentation was a rainbow-shaped design that would pay homage to the old Rainbow Pier built in the Downtown waterfront in the 1930s. The two-tier design would have separate fishing facilities on the bottom of the pier and pedestrian access on the top with the rainbow connecting Termino and 39th.

The design would create a harbor for swimming and other water activities but would require significant grading, take away some existing parking spaces and cost more than some of the other designs.

Renderings of the four pier designs revealed to the public on Thursday.

Replacing the existing pier was identified by Mayor Robert Garcia in 2018 as one of eight projects he hoped to complete before the city hosts some Olympic Games in 2028. The pier is expected to serve as a viewing station for sailing events.

Josh Hickman, the program manager for the city’s Tidelands area, said that there is no cost estimate for any of the designs and that an estimate would be more clear once a design is selected and the amenities and materials included in it were worked out.

Hickman pointed to an old report issued by the city that estimated the replacement of the pier would run about $35 million to $40 million as a starting point. The pier is in the Tidelands Area and is eligible for Tidelands funds but the revenue is tied up in other projects including the Belmont Pool project, which, at an estimated cost of $85 million, is currently short by about $20 million.

There is potential that the Olympic committee in Los Angeles could help with the cost but those discussions have not taken place yet, Hickman said.

“I, for one, would accept the funding if it were to become available for the project,” Hickman said.

The timeline for completion is likely to take years, and there is a chance that the pier wouldn’t be completed in time for the games. Councilwoman Suzie Price, who represents southeast Long Beach, including the area where the pier is, noted that the Belmont Pool replacement project began in 2014 and was just approved by the California Coastal Commission last month.

Price pointed out that part of the long timeline for the pool was due to the city having to redesign it a few times to meet coastal zone standards but that could be a reality for any pier concept that the city decides to move forward with.

“Even though it seems like 2028 is a long time away it’s going to be here very quickly, and there’s a lot we have to do to get to that point,” Price said Thursday. “I would say if we had a new pier by the time the Olympics get here, that would be great.”

Hickman said that while the pool is set to go out to bid in the next 12-18 months, the pier still needs to go through the planning and conceptual design and then be approved by the Coastal Commission. However, Hickman said the city is moving forward in hopes of finishing the pier by 2028.

The designs presented Thursday were just ideas. None have been identified by the city as a concrete plan. Residents can provide feedback through a survey on the city’s website about what they think the pier should look like and the amenities it should include. The survey will be active through April 2.

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Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post.