Planning Commission approves Mosaic housing project in Downtown

The Long Beach Planning Commission has approved the Mosaic housing project, which will replace a large part of the former City Place shopping center in Downtown with 900 units of housing and new ground-floor retail.

The project is expected to transform the two blocks between Sixth Street and Fourth Street west of Long Beach Boulevard into three eight-story apartment buildings. Because the project is in the Downtown area affected by the city’s inclusionary housing zone, it will also include 56 units set aside for very low-income households once the project opens.

In Los Angeles County in 2022, “very-low-income” was determined to be a household of four with an income of $59,500 or less.

Planning Commissioners voted unanimously Thursday night to approve the project’s site plan, which divides the northernmost block of the project into two parcels. It also amends the city’s previous environmental impact report for the 2012 Downtown Plan, which the city recently has re-worked to turn unrealized office, retail and hotel space into additional housing units.

For the updated Downtown Plan, the city used a conversion formula to conclude that it could build an additional 3,260 units in the Downtown area on top of the originally planned 5,000 units that were approved in 2012.

The project is being supported by local business owners and resident groups who say that it will bring life and economic viability to the heart of Downtown, which has stagnated since the closure of multiple large stores at City Place, including Walmart’s closure in 2016.

“As a neighbor, I am damn glad they’re joining the neighborhood,” said Leanna Noble, a member of the North Pine Neighborhood Alliance.

A rendering of paseo included in the forthcoming Mosaic development in Downtown Long Beach. Courtesy of Turnbridge Equities and Waterford Property Company.

A “super-block” that extends from Pine Avenue to Long Beach Boulevard will be broken up by the project, which will create a paseo to connect Sixth Street to Fifth Street. The project will also block off a portion of the Promenade north of Fourth Street for pedestrian use.

It’s expected that the farmers market and night market that currently happen in the area will continue to be allowed once the project is completed.

The project did receive some pushback from others, who said they were left out of the community input process and called for the addition of things like senior housing, a requirement that the developers hire local contractors to complete the job, and for more affordable units to be included in the project.

The city’s phased-in approach to implementing its inclusionary housing ordinance, which requires builders to include affordable units in their projects, only mandated that 6% of Mosaic’s units to be affordable. Had the developers submitted an application for the project this year, the requirement would have been 11%.

Commissioners sympathized with the union construction workers who showed up to lobby them to require a local hire requirement, similar to the project labor agreement the city has for city-financed projects, but ultimately said their powers were reserved for approving or denying land uses, not mandating workplace conditions.

Officials to begin hearing process for housing project replacing City Place

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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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