The Long Beach City Council at its meeting on May 24 unanimously approved selling three city-owned properties to developers with plans for new residential developments and an adaptive reuse project expected to provide new co-working “incubator” space for small creative businesses and entrepreneurs downtown.

 

In a prepared statement, Mayor Robert Garcia applauded the residential and commercial projects proposed on properties downtown and in North Long Beach once owned by the city’s former redevelopment agency (RDA), indicating that the developments will help boost property values and bring needed tax revenue to city coffers.

Pictured are two conceptual elevations of the residential project planned by Irvine-based City Ventures on former redevelopment property it purchased at 5100 Long Beach Blvd. The City of Long Beach sold the 1.7-acre property for $2.5 million. Plans call for 42 condominium units at the site.

 

“These high-quality developments will create value for our city,” he said in the statement. “They will generate jobs, increase property tax revenues and enable future investments and development opportunities that help to bolster our economy.”

 

The first proposal involves converting a nearly 90-year-old, vacant, two-story building at 120 E. 3rd St. in Downtown Long Beach, between Pine Avenue and The Promenade, into a “frontline business incubator and co-working space that aspires to attract emerging small and creative companies,” according to a city staff report.

 

The city council unanimously agreed to sell the building to Long Beach-based William Morris Commercial Inc. for $480,000, which city staff states is the highest price offered for the former redevelopment property.

 

Michael Conway, director of property and economic development, noted during the city council meeting that Dev and Janet Mavi, owners of Safe Navigation Inc., a nautical charts supplier located nearby at 236-240 Pine Ave., have protested the project, stating that the best use of the building would be to bring in new tenants, rehabilitate the structure and connect it with adjoining property.

 

Such a proposal, however, did not transpire and no tenants have been selected, Conway said. He added that, while there is no market data demonstrating demand for co-working space, developing such facilities would likely generate attraction.

 

William “Toliver” Morris, CEO of the company, a local commercial real estate broker and leasing representative for the downtown Landmark Square commercial building, said his company plans to adaptively reuse the historic 1920s building, which he called a “beautiful gem,” to create an “innovation hub” to bring together creative small businesses, similar to co-working spaces in other areas of Los Angeles County.

 

“Co-working is the new incubator model that’s coming and I would propose a first-class, top-rated co-working facility in this building,” he said. I think it will be a catalyst for new co-working facilities . . . and will bring together small businesses. . . . It shouldn’t be demolished and shouldn’t be part of some mega plan.”

 

The city council also unanimously approved a mixed-use project proposed in Downtown Long Beach on a 45,280-square-foot piece of city-owned property at the northwest corner of Broadway and The Promenade North that is currently being used as a parking lot. The city council unanimously approved selling the property to Laguna Beach-based Raintree-Evergreen LLC for $8.2 million.

 

The buyer/developer plans to build a five-story apartment complex over a two-story parking garage and 14,000 square feet of ground-floor retail and flex co-working space. Conway said that, out of four proposals submitted to the city, Raintree-Evergreen’s proposal brought the best value. Once entitlements are approved, construction is expected to take nearly two years, he said.

 

Vice Mayor and 2nd District Councilmember Suja Lowenthal noted that the public is expected to have a chance to discuss options for alternative parking, since the current parking lot will cease to exist, during the entitlement process in coming months.

 

The last project involves a residential development proposed by Irvine-based City Ventures at the corner of Sunset Street and Long Beach Boulevard in North Long Beach. The city council agreed to sell the 1.7-acre property, which has two existing residences, for $2.5 million. According to city staff, City Ventures plans to build 42 market-rate condominium townhome units at the site.

 

Eighth District Councilmember Al Austin praised the residential development moving forward in the city’s historic Virginia Village area, stating that the proposal provides reasonable density and ample parking along the Long Beach Boulevard corridor.

 

“This is a project that we would actually love to see happen along Long Beach Boulevard,” Austin said. “It’s going to be a great addition and a dramatic change along the Long Beach Boulevard corridor that will really upgrade our Virginia Village area.”

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