People cross the street in front of Hotel Mai on Dec. 15, 2022, which is situated on the corner of First Street and Long Beach Boulevard. The hotel has been under construction since 2018, and officials estimate construction could be completed within the next three quarters. Photo by Tess Kazenoff.

After about four years of construction, a new boutique hotel coming to Downtown Long Beach is entering its final stages of development.

Work on the five-story, 34-room hotel at the corner of First Street and Long Beach Boulevard will likely wrap up sometime next year, according to city officials.

The project, which has recently been named Hotel Mai, will bring a new look to the Downtown area, with an approach to architecture that deviates from many of the hotels currently seen in the neighborhood. The design is almost reminiscent of a style seen in Miami, particularly through tiles used along the base of the building and the orientation of the balconies, said project planner Cuentin Jackson.

“Even though those are two different cities, you have certain similarities that are shared between the city of Long Beach and Miami, as far as proximity to the water, and just diversity of culture,” Jackson said.

The hotel’s entrance is angled to cut between both First Street and Long Beach Boulevard, adding to the prominence of the entrance itself, Jackson said.

While other details or potential amenities are still unclear, and are limited due to the hotel’s relatively small size, plans most likely include a pool on the third level, Jackson said.

The hotel proposal by independent developer Yogesh Patel spans back to 2015, said Jackson. Patel was not available for comment.

Although the project didn’t need approval from the Planning Commission due to its smaller size, the entitlement process still saw delays due to a shortage of parking, Jackson said.

After reconfiguring plans to incorporate a parking lift system, which allows for more parking in the same square footage by using mechanical equipment to allow the vertical stacking of vehicles, it took additional time to find a manufacturer, Jackson said.

After nearly a year, he said, plans were able to move forward.

“We did have to work with the applicant to find a creative solution to ensure they could meet the parking requirements of the Downtown Plan,” said planning manager Alison Spindler-Ruiz.

To facilitate the parking lift, the hotel will offer 100% valet service, and it’s one of the first projects in Long Beach to utilize this type of system, Spindler-Ruiz said.

The project was entitled in 2017, and after a couple more changes regarding the exterior and balconies, construction finally began in 2018.

Typically, for a project like this, it can take a couple of years for construction to commence and complete, and additional delays are not uncommon. But the pandemic slowed the project down even more, Jackson said.

“From the city side, we do everything we can to help projects move along,” Spindler-Ruiz said. “But there’s a global set of challenges related to construction and timeframe and material shortages, et cetera.”

While a specific timeline is still unclear, Jackson estimates that construction will be completed within the next three quarters.

“To have this new and unique type of boutique hotel right near our Visitor Convention Center and our coasts and the core of our Downtown is very exciting,” Spindler-Ruiz said, “and will add to the growing vibrancy and character of that part of our Downtown.”