The Holy Innocents School in Long Beach’s Wrigley neighborhood could soon begin a three-phase expansion of its property on Pacific Avenue that will transform the existing school to accommodate more students and make room for a new church.

While the school currently only offers educational courses through middle school, the first phase of the project would demolish three existing buildings to make room for a new 19,378-square-foot school building, with the second story of the building making space for high school students.

The project’s second phase would build a new 9,414-square-foot gym, with the final phase being the construction of a new 19,532-square-foot church as well as a parish, convent and rectory building. The Planning Commission voted unanimously Thursday night to approve the project.

Holy Innocents Catholic Church is currently located on the corner of 20th Street and Pasadena Avenue, and the project is intended to create a site where its school and the church will be on the same property. It’s unclear what will happen to the existing church after the new one is finished.

A rendering of the proposed expansion of the Holy Innocents School at 2500 Pacific Avenue in Long Beach. Photo courtesy of city of Long Beach

The Holy Innocents School currently has about 250 students, and the expansion would allow for the student population to grow to about 315, according to Lindsay Ortega, a representative for the proposed project.

After all phases of the project are completed, Ortega said that there would be 105 parking spaces, which should allow any students who drive themselves to school to have a place to park.

Two parcels that the school proposes to build on were included in the city’s Housing Element as potential spaces where affordable housing could be built in the future. The document, as required by state law, mapped out where 26,500 needed housing units could be be built by 2029.

Cynthia de la Torre, a planner in the city’s Development Services Department, told the commission that recent ADU production in the city—as well as the recently approved Mosaic development Downtown that will include 56 affordable units and another 100-unit development near St. Mary Medical Center—will offset the loss of potential units that could have built on those parcels.

The Holy Innocents parcels were projected to hold 63 affordable units in the city’s Housing Element.

The City Council will have to give final approval for the project to move forward.

Basketball hoops sit idle at the concrete playground of Holy Innocents Parish School in Long Beach Wednesday, March 15, 2023. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

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