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City Hall East Price Tag: $2.1 Million

Former Edison Building To Be Converted To 134 Loft Rentals And Ground Floor Retail By Ratkovich Properties

By Tiffany Rider - Senior Writer

April 23, 2013 - At tonight’s (April 23) city council meeting, councilmembers are expected to approve the sale of 100 Long Beach Blvd., known as City Hall East, for $2.1 million to lead developer Ratkovich Properties and others operating as 100 LBB Real Estate LLC. The building, previously occupied by Edison International, has been vacant since 2005 and was recently designated as surplus property by the city, according to staff reports.

Councilmembers have already been briefed by staff about the selection of 100 LBB Real Estate LLC, Cliff Ratkovich, president of Ratkovich Properties, told the Business Journal on April 19. “They are aware of the overarching concept of the project, so there is not going to be a formal presentation by us to the public or the city council,” he said. “It’s more of a procedural manner that is instructing staff to move forward with us and to conclude the purchase and sale agreement.”

The terms and conditions of that agreement, according to city staff reports, includes: a final sale price of $2.1 million sans a $40,000 credit for damage as a result of vandalism; an initial $25,000 deposit: a $225,000 deposit with the opening of escrow; and a default contract. The default contract mandates $1 million to the buyer if the city breaches the terms of the contract, while the city would retain the $250,000 deposit if the buyer defaults. The city’s public works department for security, maintenance and repairs of the building may incur an additional $100,000 to $150,000 until escrow has closed.

Ratkovich said he hopes to close escrow in this quarter. Once escrow closes, there is some demolition work to be done in the interior of the building before new construction can begin in the fourth quarter of 2013 or first quarter of 2014.

Completion is slated for the end of the fourth quarter of 2014. Apartment and rental leasing could begin as early as the second quarter of 2015.

“Under the new Downtown Plan, which was passed in June of last year, the property is identified as residential mixed use as one of the permitted uses of the property,” Ratkovich said. “That indeed was the desire and intention of the city when they issued the RFP [request for proposals] for developers. They would like to see that building transformed into a residential building. That’s how we responded and that is our intention as well. The plan is to transform it into a boutique apartment community with mixed uses of retail on the ground floor and then residential apartments above the ground floor all the way up to the 10th floor.”

As proposed, the project – called The Edison Lofts – will include 134 loft spaces including studios, one- and two-bedroom apartments with an average size of 709 square feet. The ground floor commercial space is proposed to include 2,903 square feet for a café and coffeehouse with outdoor seating, along with 8,059 square feet of live/work units and opportunities for additional commercial uses. The adjacent parking structure offers 165 spaces.

While Ratkovich Properties is the lead developer, Ratkovich said OliverMcMillan has been invited as a co-developer partner on the project. OliverMcMillan is widely known in Long Beach for its involvement with the Queensway Bay project and for its failed attempt to develop The Pike in Downtown Long Beach, which it later turned over to current owner, Developers Diversified Realty. “We are in the process of finalizing our partnership entity,” Ratkovich said.

Listed among the development team for this project are: Nakada+Associates, architects; George C. Hopkins Construction, contractor; JR van Dijs, Inc., construction consultant; Nabih Youssef & Associates, structural engineer; Arts Council for Long Beach, arts consultant; Urban Innovations, transportation and mobility consultant; and several others.

“It’s a wonderful example of mid-century modern architecture,” Ratkovich said of City Hall East. “It was designed by one of Long Beach’s most prominent architects, Kenneth Wing. Our plan is to return some of the luster to that mid-century modern building and hopefully turn it into a beautiful jewel on the skyline. It’s an important property and an important project because it stands at the western gateway to the East Village Arts District. Having set fallow for so long, it really has become a barrier in connecting the East Village Arts District with the core of downtown. By transforming that building, activating the ground floors and bringing 175 to 200 new residents to that location, suddenly you can see the connection of those two districts.”