At its October 20 meeting, the planning commission approved the Shoreline Development Partners LP project on the corner of East Ocean Boulevard and Alamitos Avenue – the East Tower to accompany The Current (West Tower) – for the second time with a unanimous vote.
The 35-story building was initially approved in 2007 to include 221 residential units, 6,367 square feet of retail and restaurant space and 393 parking spaces. However, after nine years, the company filed an addendum to alter the previous proposal.
The approved addendum increases the number of units to 315, the retail and restaurant space to 6,711 and the number of parking stalls to 458. The only change to the current design is that the proposed two-level subterranean garage will increase to five levels.
Units in the building will include a mix of studios, one- and two-bedrooms, and lofts ranging from 500 to 2,097 square feet. The Downtown Plan includes a minimum unit size of 600 square feet, but developers can request to reduce the size of up to 15% of the units to no less than 450 feet. The proposed project contains 13% (40) of units that are 500 and 520 square feet.
The tower will include 8,300 square feet of common, outdoor open space. Residents will enjoy two community rooms and two lounges that total more than 7,300 square feet, a gym, a resident community garden, a pool and a spa. Additionally, 93% of units have private open space in the form of balconies ranging from 52 to 760 square feet.
Warren Blesofsky, a downtown resident and president of Long Beach Citizens for Fair Development, claimed the city and commission were once again making a “complete mockery” of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) by not conducting a secondary environmental impact assessment.
According to CEQA, if minor changes are made to a plan, a new environmental impact report is not necessary. Blesofsky claimed that 94 additional units is not a “minor change,” but a major one. However, city staff pointed out that the concept of a minor change within the law is not in reference to project plans but rather the environmental impact, which was found to be relatively unaltered by the modification.
Other speakers referred to the building as an eyesore or a “monstrosity” and claimed the city should “keep Long Beach local.” However, the vast majority of public comments were positive and in full support of the proposed project. Most commenters asked for the commission to approve the project to help with the housing crisis in the city, as well as increase sales for local businesses downtown. Another benefit that several speakers mentioned was the added ability for residents to live close to work and entertainment.
“This is not about minor technical changes, it’s about progress. A couple of weeks ago, I saw two pictures: one of the City of Vancouver, the other of the City of Long Beach,” Jim Kuhne, a lawyer at Roberts & Kehagiaras in downtown, said. “They were taken from the same perspective – over the water, looking in toward the city. They looked like a before and after. Vancouver with its beautiful high-rises, just like the one we’re talking about, and Long Beach with all its potential.”