Downtown Long Beach’s shopping center City Place will soon have a new vibe and energy thanks to Long Beach-based P+R Architects and its subsidiary, Studio One Eleven. In addition to redesigning the center, Studio One Eleven and P+R are set to become an anchor tenant there – a decision Senior Principal Michael Bohn said should help better connect the firm with the community and inject more activity into the sleepy shopping center.


Through City Place’s redesign and P+R’s relocation, Bohn said his company is “leveraging millions of dollars to an area that has been overlooked.” The firm signed a 10-year lease to occupy a portion of the former Nordstrom Rack location on the north side of 3rd Street between the Promenade North and Long Beach Boulevard beginning October 1, 2016. P+R is likely to invest about $1.5 million in tenant improvements, Bohn said.


About a year ago, P+R began reevaluating its current location in the Wells Fargo office tower on Ocean Boulevard. “We have these great views of downtown, but we really feel disconnected,” Bohn explained. “We thought by having a storefront accessible . . . on the street level, we could serve as a much better resource for the community and have a stronger public face.”


Bohn and his peers were drawn to the former Nordstrom Rack location because they recognized the area directly south of it was already experiencing a transformation. “We noticed the Promenade [South] was improving with some great restaurants like Michael’s Pizzeria and Beachwood BBQ,” Bohn said.


Lee & Associates’ work to redesign a retail building at the southwest corner of Long Beach Boulevard and 3rd Street also drew P+R’s attention, and inspired the firm to carry the momentum created by that development northward. “We said, wow, what if we moved our offices here and infused 120 office workers [to the area]?” Bohn said.


Bohn credited City Place owner representative Tony Shooshani with supporting his company’s move and its vision for the area. “In the beginning, when he talked about how his vision aligned with ours, it was almost unbelievable,” Bohn said. “His vision has not floundered.”


The former Nordstrom Rack will be divvied up so that retailers occupy the corner-facing locations at Long Beach Boulevard and Promenade North, with P+R and Studio One Eleven sandwiched in between. But don’t expect to see desks lining the windows facing the street, Bohn said. The firm envisions more active uses along the street, including an art gallery, a seminar room, a cafe and small sidewalk patios. “When people walk by, it is going to have a very commercial presence on the street.”


The new location should also benefit employees by creating a more connected office culture, rather than the disjointed situation the firm currently has in its two-floor suite in the Wells Fargo tower. Planned amenities for employees include an outdoor garden and barbecue area in what was formerly a loading bay for Nordstrom Rack, bicycles to check out, and more.


“Our hearts are here,” Bohn said of his company’s commitment to Long Beach. “We have worked in every council district, so this is our home.”