Planning Commission sends 226-home River Park project to City Council

A proposed housing development that could add 226 homes along the Los Angeles River in Long Beach will move forward to the City Council after the city’s Planning Commission voted to recommend its approval Thursday night.

Known as River Park, the project would consist of 74 two-story single-family homes, 99 two-story row townhomes and 53 carriage townhomes, a dozen of which would be reserved for very-low income buyers.

Those 12 units, currently slated to be located at the southernmost portion of the project, would be reserved for those making 50% or less of the area median income, or $59,500 per year for a family of four in Los Angeles County.

The Newport Beach-based developer, Integral Communities, previously helped build the Riverdale development along the river in North Long Beach.

River Park would be built on a roughly 20-acre site situated just south of the 405 Freeway along the river near the city’s Wrigley neighborhood. The site is bounded by Baker Street and Wardlow Road and is between the river path and Golden Avenue.

The site, which had been used as a former oil field wastewater treatment site, will require significant remediation before any homes can be built. Previous reports estimate that the project could be complete by June 2026.

The Planning Commission’s 4-1 vote came after multiple members of surrounding communities objected to the project, which they said was improper for the area, could displace migratory birds and would remove one of the last big parcels of land that could be developed into open space in a part of the city that lacks it.

“A housing development like this wouldn’t be built along any other river,” said Benjamin Harris, a lawyer representing Los Angeles Waterkeeper, a group dedicated to protecting waterways in the region. “The LA River is a river, not a concrete channel, it should be viewed as a river.”

Members from a local advocacy group called Riverpark Coalition, which is not related to the proposed development, sought to preserve the site for potential park development.

“We need green and park space, not a project and a gated community that very few are going to be able to utilize,” said Leslie Garretson, a board member of the coalition.

Last year, the coalition lost its battle to block an RV storage facility from being built on an 11-acre parcel of land just north of the proposed housing project.

Before the council approved that project, the city released a report that identified parcels of land along the river that could potentially be acquired and developed into open space.

The city identified two parcels owned by the county that straddle the river and could be developed into open space for an estimated $27 million, not including the purchase price.

The report did not include the Baker Street parcel for multiple reasons, including that it’s privately owned and would include additional costs to remediate the soil to make it safe for people to visit.

The River Park housing project would include a 4.8-acre park that would connect to the existing Baker Street Park and would help buffer the homes from the 405 Freeway on the north. The new park would include bathrooms and a soccer field, according to the plans.

The developers said the park would be open to the public and supported through homeowners association fees. Other improvements that are stipulated in the deal require the developer to make improvements to the neighboring Wrigley Heights Dog Park and create a pedestrian walkway that connects to the Wardlow bridge that crosses over the river.

Council members will have the final say on whether the project is approved. It is likely to be on the council agenda in the coming months.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify the Planning Commission’s vote.

Long Beach identifies 11-acre parcel along LA River as top space for future park

Creating new park space in Long Beach ‘not impossible, but challenging’

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Jason Ruiz has been covering City Hall for the Post for nearly a decade. A Long Beach resident, Ruiz graduated from Cal State Long Beach with a degree in journalism. He and his wife Kristina and, most importantly, their dog Mango, live in Long Beach. He is a particularly avid fan of the Dallas Cowboys and the UCLA Bruins, which is why he sometimes comes to work after the weekend in a grumpy mood.
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