The old North Neighborhood Library building, closed in 2016, will be replaced by affordable townhomes. File photo by Stephanie Rivera.

After years of trying to find a developer for the project, Long Beach may finally see its former North Neighborhood Library converted into affordable housing.

This week, the city’s nonprofit Long Beach Community Investment Company agreed to enter into negotiations with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles to develop the site into eight, two-story homes that would be sold to low-income first-time homebuyers.

If a deal is reached, Habitat LA is proposing four three-bedroom, two-bathroom homes and four four-bedroom, two-bathroom homes to be built on the site once the old library is demolished.

Each house is projected to be about 1,350 square feet and would be equipped with solar power, energy-efficient appliances and an exterior electrical outlet capable of charging vehicles, according to a report on the LBCIC’s Jan. 18 agenda.

Habitat LA was chosen over one other developer because its plan included twice as many units and included green building elements, as well as Habitat’s proven track record of producing for-sale units, according to the city.

The homes would be offered to homebuyers who make 80% of the area’s median income or less. In Los Angeles County, that was roughly $95,300 for a family of four in 2022, according to the developer’s website.

Habitat LA’s homebuyer program requires applicants to have good credit, prove that they’re within the allowed income range and that they can afford a small down payment and the monthly mortgage on the homes, which Habitat sells at no profit.

Applicants also have to demonstrate a need for affordable housing, complete an education program and give between 125-500 “sweat equity hours,” according to their website.

“The LBCIC is proud to continue supporting investments such as this that will provide affordable homeownership opportunities for Long Beach families,” LBCIC Chair Mary Castro said in a statement put out by the city. “Habitat LA has been a long-time partner of the city and we are thankful for their investment in the Long Beach community.”

Habitat LA just broke ground on a 36-unit condo project in the Washington Neighborhood just north of Anaheim Street. It also opened the 10-unit Millennium Homes project near the 14th Street Park in November, which was also to-own units reserved for low-income families.

It’s completed a handful of other homes in the city since 2014.

The city had been seeking a developer for the site since at least 2018, when it sold the property to the LBCIC.

Entering into a six-month exclusive negotiating agreement with Habitat LA will allow the LBCIC and Habitat LA to determine if the project is feasible. The negotiating window can be extended by a total of 180 days by the LBCIC’s president, Christopher Koontz, who is also the city’s Development Services director.

“It is so exciting to see a former civic space, the site of our former north library, come back to life as housing for deserving Long Beach families,” Koontz said in a statement. “Habitat does a great job of turning dreams of homeownership into reality. We are so excited to partner with them again on this important project.”

Habitat LA breaks ground on affordable housing project in Washington neighborhood

Old North Long Beach library may be turned into affordable housing—but first it will again house a winter shelter

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