City officials have talked about developing a “coastal gateway” in Southeast Long Beach for years—and now, four major projects have been revealed that will turn that vision into a reality.

During his annual Building a Better Long Beach presentation on Tuesday, Mayor Robert Garcia shared updates on dozens of development projects across the city, four of which will help revitalize the city’s entrance from the east on E. Pacific Coast Highway. Three of the projects are mixed-use developments that will bring 1,353 residential units and over 12,000 square feet of commercial space to the area, with the fourth to add 5,200 square feet of office space alongside an almost 10,000-square-foot warehouse.

These projects—which are still under review and do not yet have a construction timeline—will add to the total of just under 6,500 residential units that are in the works all across the city, including over 1,000 units designated for low-income or affordable households. Of those, almost 4,000 of those are in the pipeline for construction. The city currently has $475 million worth of projects permitted or under construction.

Adding to the housing stock in East Long Beach was an important step for Garcia, who recalled the challenges that came with the task during Tuesday’s presentation.

“For years, we have debated about what we should build,” he said. “We’ve had debates about density, but some folks didn’t want to build anything at all.”

Holland Partner Group is the developer on one of the four projects, bringing two, five-story buildings to 6700 E. Pacific Coast Highway. The buildings will provide 303 units—including 13 affordable units—and 3,390 square feet of commercial space at the Congressional Place office property. Holland announced that it purchased the site in February.

Congressional Place was built in 1983, and its age had begun to show. The opportunity the space provides to add affordable housing to the eastern part of the city was an opportunity Garcia wanted to take, and Holland’s efforts will bring that to reality.

“Affordable homes in East Long Beach,” Garcia said, “will be really great for that community.”

A rendering of a proposed six-story mixed-use development coming to 6615 E. Pacific Coast Highway. Courtesy of the city of Long Beach.

The second project is another six-story building being developed by Carmel Partners, but this one will offer more affordable housing. Plans for the project show that 71 of the 380 units will be affordable. The property will also include around 4,800 square feet of commercial space at 6615 E. Pacific Coast Highway, which Garcia said will help bring life to the area.

“We’re going to go from a not-very-active commercial space to an incredibly great new mixed-use project,” Garcia said.

A rendering of a proposed mixed-use project consisting of two five-story buildings to 6500 E. Pacific Coast Highway. Courtesy of the city of Long Beach.

And Vancouver-based Onni Development Group—which is also working on the Broadway Block project in Downtown—is developing the last of the three mixed-use projects that are part of the coastal gateway effort. The development, which has been dubbed Onni Marina Shores, is slated for 6500 E. Pacific Coast Highway at the former Marina Shores retail center.

This project will consist of two five-story buildings and will provide 670 total units, though none are designated as affordable. The project will also involve the development of about 4,000 square feet of commercial space.

A fourth development in the area—dubbed Lyon Living—does not include residential units, but it comes with another benefit for the area. Lyon Living will consist of a two-story, 5,200 square-foot office project at 6701 E. Pacific Coast Highway whose construction will include work to maintain the wetlands surrounding the lot.

“Lyon Living is…cleaning the fields, restoring the wetlands, and ensuring that we have a really nice entranceway into the city,” Garcia said.

Of course, the developments are coming to a space where another major project—2ND & PCH—has already laid the groundwork of revitalization. The shopping center opened in late 2019 and was billed as a way to transform the gateway to Long Beach.

Now, several other developments will build on that work.

The general manager for 2ND & PCH, Samantha Lopez, said she welcomes the arrival of new residents to the area.

“Ultimately, I think we are prepared for the future growth in the community,” Lopez said.

Many of the businesses at 2ND & PCH had opened just a few months prior to the pandemic, and Lopez said this made surviving through lockdowns an arduous task. Now—with 55 current tenants and plans for more to come—Lopez said there is finally a feeling of normalcy.

“We’re fortunate enough to say the tenants are now seeing the traffic that they once hoped and anticipated for,” Lopez said.

With in-person activities returning, Lopez said that new businesses will improve the area’s ability to attract potential customers.

“More retail and more restaurants is ultimately going to serve our community,” Lopez said, “and we embrace it.”

City officials have seen the potential for housing redevelopment on these particular lots since the Southeast Area Specific Plan 2060 was adopted in September 2017. Onni Marina Shores and Holland’s project are being developed on lots that were highlighted in the plan.

“You never would have imagined that coming into Long Beach,” Garcia said of the development. “This is a great new project right off of PCH.”

Christian May-Suzuki is a reporter at the Long Beach Business Journal.