A proposal to divide an old Orchard Supply Hardware location at Long Beach Exchange into three new parcels for future businesses was approved by the Planning Commission Thursday, paving the way for potentially leasing the space that has been vacant since August 2018.

Orchard was intended to be one of the anchor tenants of LBX when it opened in March 2018, but an abrupt announcement in August of that year said the chain was closing all of its stores nationwide.

The East Long Beach shopping center has thrived since its opening with its food hall “The Hangar” and other restaurants, shops and fitness studios drawing regular crowds to the center.

However, the old Orchard parcel on its northernmost row of shops that backs up to Carson Street has remained vacant. On Thursday, the Planning Commission approved a proposal to carve up the 40,000-square-foot space into three new storefronts.

A rendering shows what the former Orchard Supply Hardware location will look like after developers enclose the area that was previously its garden center. Photo courtesy of TSA Architects

The largest would be 14,611 square feet, with a 9,496-square-foot space sandwiched in between that and another 12,829-square-foot storefront on the westernmost side of the old Orchard building, where its garden center was located.

Plans submitted to the city by TSA Architects on behalf of DJM Capital Partners, the owners of LBX, show the former garden center being enclosed and a complete remodel of the facade.

It’s unclear what tenants might be targeted to fill the new retail spaces once they’re completed. DJM Capital did not respond to a request for comment.

Kristopher Golder, vice president of development for DJM, told the commission Thursday that it’s in negotiations with two national retailers DJM thinks fits the mix of businesses at LBX, and he hopes that the landlord improvements could be completed in early 2024.

Tenant improvements would follow, and Golden said the hope is that the new tenants could open later in 2024.

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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.