A complete renovation is coming to a large portion of the Downtown Long Beach shopping center formerly known as City Place.
The team behind the reimagined development, which was rebranded as Mosaic earlier this year, unveiled its plans for the project to the local community on Thursday evening.
While the property itself spans 14 acres, work to revitalize the development will focus on two specific parcels: the former Walmart site on the southwest corner of Long Beach Boulevard and East Sixth Street and the retail building directly to its south, which is currently home to GameStop, Fashion Island and a T-Mobile store.
“We’ve been working with the city for over a year now. We’ve gone through multiple rounds of site plan review,” Oren Hillel, director of development for Waterford Property Company, said during Thursday’s community meeting. “We’ve gotten the project to a really successful and exciting place.”
Waterford, along with Turnbridge Equities and Monument Square Investment, announced the joint acquisition of the shopping district in March 2021. Conceptual plans submitted to the city in December indicated a desire to build three new eight-story buildings that would offer 900 residential units, more than 30,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space and a standalone commercial pavilion—and the details shared at Thursday’s meeting largely aligned with those plans.
The parcel on the southwest corner of Long Beach Boulevard and East Sixth Street, the team shared Thursday, will consist of a 269-unit residential development and pedestrian paseo at its northern end and a mixed-use building at its southern end that will include 359 residential units and 19,000 square feet of commercial space.
The parcel at the southwestern corner of Long Beach Boulevard and East Fifth Street, meanwhile, will transform into a mixed-use building with 272 units and 20,000 square feet of commercial space.
It’s unclear what the team’s development timeline is. In February, city officials indicated that it could take more than a year for the property owners to obtain permits to begin demolition of the current buildings.
But the team that provided Thursday’s presentation, which included Hillel along with Waterford co-founder Sean Rawson and Turnbridge Managing Director Michael Gazzano, said the work that’s been underway over the last year and a half has focused on more than just designing new buildings.
Gazzano said the team has placed an emphasis on security, which has included replacing more than 600 light bulbs, hiring a security expert and strengthening the relationship with neighbors and the Long Beach Police Department. The team has also made upgrades to the complex’s roofing, landscaping and heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, among other improvements.
But perhaps the most important effort so far, Hillel said, has been to engage members of the surrounding community and ensure the new project reflects their wishes.
To that end, the team plans to make the retail complex more pedestrian-friendly by closing The Promenade to vehicular traffic between Fourth and Fifth streets and extending that pedestrian zone north to Sixth Street. The paseo would run between the former Walmart property and the parking garage to the west.
Hillel noted that city officials have indicated they are “fully in support” of the pedestrian zone.
“We think this can be a pretty incredible plaza here,” he said.
The property’s owners also hope to make the area more attractive through new murals and live music while maintaining community programming that already exists.
“One of the things we’ve learned was the importance of the farmers market out here on Fridays as well as the night market here on Thursday nights, so we’ve been working with the operators of those two markets to make sure that they can stay here and we can celebrate them and their programming,” Gazzano said, “and also we can install bollards at both the ends of the street to make it safer, as well as other lighting opportunities and things like that, to keep them here.”
Overall, the team said, the goal is to create a vibrant next chapter for the area.
“I think what we’ve learned the last year and half of owning this property is what some of these small business owners have gone through the last couple years, and how resilient they’ve been and how hard they’ve fought to keep their businesses open, which is pretty inspirational,” Gazzano said. “I think having more residents on site will help them with their businesses, hopefully. More people will be supporting local restaurants and shops.”