Downtown Long Beach could be getting a new residential tower after the Planning Commission approved plans for a 21-story, 203-unit residential building at the site of the former Long Beach Cafe.

The building will include 13 units reserved for very-low-income households and will be a mix of studios (24), one-bedroom (96), two-bedroom (76) and three-bedroom units (7), according to plans submitted by the developer.

It would replace the long-standing Long Beach Cafe, which closed in 2020 after 32 years in business with owners citing the COVID-19 pandemic. The new 21-story building would sit next to the historic Artaban building and a block away from the 35-story Shoreline Gateway, Long Beach’s tallest building that opened to residents in late 2021.

The affordable units will include three studios, six one-bedroom and four two-bedroom units. More affordable units would have been required in the project if the developers hadn’t submitted plans in 2022, when the required amount of affordable units under the city’s inclusionary housing policy was 6%.

Projects submitted after January 2023 now require 11% of rental units to be set aside for lower-income households.

While the commission approved the plans unanimously, there were some questions over the number of parking spaces included in the project, given its proximity to the A Line and other public transit options.

The project includes an automated parking facility with 261 vehicle spaces as well as 41 spots for bicycles. That led Commissioner Michael Clemson to question how it would offset pollution from vehicles, one of the city’s largest sources of pollution. He asserted that research has shown “the more parking you build, the more people drive.”

Because it’s a new building, the project will have to comply with the city’s Climate Action Adaptation Plan, which requires solar power, or the purchase of renewable energy to power the building.

Derek Burnham of Burnham Development, which has worked on numerous projects in the city, said the plan’s parking figures were based on old requirements for the area. After recent changes to state law, the project could have moved forward with zero parking spaces.

Jihan Broughton, who lives Downtown, said parking in the area is already a problem, and the lack of spaces provided for the project’s 203 units could worsen the situation for neighboring buildings.

“I think it’s not really taking into account the day-to-day life of people who are going to live in and around this building,” Broughton said.

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