‘All Retail’ Project Now Planned For 2nd Street & Pacific Coast Highway Site
New Proposal Comes As City Looks To Initiate Comprehensive SEADIP Update
By Sean Belk - Staff Writer
May 22, 2012 – City officials confirmed that the landowner of the SeaPort Marina Hotel site at 2nd Street and Pacific Coast Highway recently submitted conceptual plans for a new “all retail” development at the site. Long Beach Councilmember Gary DeLong told the Business Journal via e-mail that the plans comply “with the existing zoning regulations.”
For several years, property owner Raymond Lin of Taki Sun, Inc. sought to develop the 11-acre dilapidated hotel site. But local opposition has stonewalled development plans for “second+pch” due to prior ventures including a high-rise residential and hotel use, which didn’t conform to the current coastal zoning standards. Of particular concern was unmitigated traffic and possible impacts on the nearby wetlands.
Various proposals to create a revitalized “southeastern gateway” into the city have so far failed, including Lin’s latest proposed $320 million mixed-use plan with a 12-story residential and hotel building. After nearly four years of planning and an investment of nearly $4.5 million for environmental review, that project was scrapped from moving forward by the Long Beach City Council last December in a 5-3 vote.
Councilmembers and California Coastal Commission staff pointed to the zoning regulation, known as the Southeast Development Improvement Plan (SEADIP), which requires that all buildings in the area be no higher than 35 feet and disallows residential use. At the time, however, Developer David Malmuth said the residential component was needed for the project to work financially and transform the site into a revenue-generating, upscale mixed-use development.
Since then, the city has decided to update and amend the city’s Local Coastal Program and SEADIP regulations, first established in 1977, through a comprehensive collaborative planning process. The city was awarded a $929,000 grant on May 10 from the California Strategic Growth Council to fund the update process.
Some councilmembers and nearby developers requested a restriction on all new development and amendments to SEADIP while the update process is underway, which city staff said could be at least two years. But such a moratorium on development has yet to receive full approval from the city council. City staff has not indicated when the update process would begin.
Meanwhile, Newport Beach-based developer Lyon Communities has also submitted plans for a development across Pacific Coast Highway after purchasing the seven-acre “pumpkin patch” site. The developer offered to pay for the SEADIP update, with conditions, but Councilmember DeLong said the private funding is no longer needed. The city is expected to receive the grant funding “within 60 days,” he said.
Whether the hotel property owner’s new plans for a retail development may impact the SEADIP update or conform to current zoning is speculative at this point, since city staff has refused to release plans to the public, said Mel Nutter, an attorney in land use and environmental law and an opponent of the previous second+pch project. But, he did say traffic impacts might still be a concern.
“This project, if it’s all commercial as I understand it to be, may in fact generate more traffic potentially than what the last effort would have generated,” he said. “But, at this point . . . I’ve got more questions than I’ve got answers.”
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