Downtown Long Beach is alive with renewed energy driven by shiny new housing, stylish new restaurants and refreshed streetscapes. And, the new Civic Center will be a catalyst for more investment in downtown residential, restaurant and hotel developments. This reawaking of downtown is built on a strong foundation of urban pioneers who invested in the “future” of the community many years ago.
While we take pride in the sparkling new buildings, I’m excited about what this revitalization is doing to create new employment, entrepreneurial and housing opportunities for individuals and families. The energy in downtown has also become a catalyst for connecting people with their neighbors, with residents across the city and linking Long Beach to the Southern California region.
Creating new economic opportunities and connecting people across the city is at the core of the Long Beach Economic Blueprint currently under-development by the Economic Development Commission. The success of Downtown Long Beach is part of the foundation on which we hope to drive more economic opportunities in Bixby Knolls, north town, east, central and the Westside . . . indeed in neighborhoods across the city.
Again, the success is not just found in the new buildings rising. Fundamental to this success has been the collaboration among residents, business-owners, developers, government and the community – driven by the Downtown Long Beach Alliance – to create opportunities from the west end, to the ocean, to the east village and throughout the downtown core.
Yes, the future is indeed bright for Downtown Long Beach! The challenge and opportunity now is to learn from this success, leverage the economic energy and connect people together to develop a citywide Economic Blueprint that brings new investment and vitality to neighborhoods across the city.
We invite readers to learn more about the Blueprint including opportunities for comment as well as commission meeting dates and times, at www.longbeach.gov/blueprint.
Scroll back to 1933: Halbert Hargrove’s birthplace was on Pine Street in “downtown” Long Beach. More than 80 years later, we’re still downtown, with the exact same phone number – except now we’re headquartered around the block at 111 West Ocean Blvd. We’ve expanded beyond our Long Beach headquarters to five additional offices in five U.S. states, but DTLB remains the locus of our growth, is home base to the majority of our associates, and is a phenomenal place to do business.
From the 23rd floor overlooking downtown, here’s what we see:
• A business-friendly environment;
• Great companies choosing to set up shop here in the greater Long Beach area;
• A thriving, engaged community, encompassing philanthropy, the arts, public events, and architecture;
• People attracted not just to work here, but to live here, with beautiful new residential developments.
Recently, we were offered the opportunity to buy our own building, but this would have required moving out of DTLB. Ultimately, the answer for us was a resounding no.
The reasons were numerous. We love everything about our current offices, including our stunning views from Catalina Island to the eastern mountains. But we also believe that being downtown – particularly in such a high-energy, resurgent downtown – makes a statement about who we are. We are fiduciary investment managers and wealth advisors, and when you work in finance, being anchored downtown carries strong connotations of stability and success. We also just like the idea of how many of our Long Beach-area clients expect us to be here and enjoy walking into this handsome building where we’ve made our home since 1995.
I love my job: I get to be engaged with everything that helps this firm run like a dream and move forward confidently into the future. And I believe there just isn’t a better place for Halbert Hargrove to be than DTLB.
The economic future is bright for the City of Long Beach – particularly in the diverse and dynamic downtown! One does not have to look far up Pine Avenue or down Ocean Boulevard to see new housing developments, creative co-working spaces, and new restaurants opening their doors for business.
Looking down we see excavators and dump trucks, digging the foundation of the city’s future. Looking up we see scaffolds and cranes, announcing the arrival of the new economy. With over 1,400 businesses ranging from trade and logistics, to hospitality and technology, the downtown economy is diverse and resilient – positioned for growth in the modern economy. But the downtown’s future will be defined by its people – not by its properties. With over 32,000 residents now living in the downtown and a median age of 35 years old, the population is young, educated and social, with an eye for creative, connected, dynamic places.
At the Economic & Property Development Department, our vision is that Long Beach, and particularly the downtown, is seen internationally as the “city of opportunity.” Every day, our job at the city is to do what it takes to increase economic opportunities and to strengthen our neighborhoods for all people – entrepreneurs, workers, and investors. This means reducing time and cost to start a business. Increasing access to high quality internet. And creating partnerships with CSULB (with 40,000 students) and LBCC (with 24,000 students), to bring new talent into the city’s workforce.
If we are doing our job right, we will measure our success by growing the number and diversity of businesses; expanding the number and quality of jobs; and, increasing the confidence that people have in the future of the city’s economy. Our approach will be user-centered, forward-thinking, and data driven. It’s an exciting time to be in Long Beach!
I believe the future of Downtown Long Beach is looking bright for the many area residents who call downtown their home. Over the past number of years, we’ve seen a steady rise in new development, small businesses opening their doors, and economic opportunities presenting themselves for entrepreneurs, workers, artists, and musicians.
With all that being said, downtown does still face critical challenges and will need strong leadership to ensure it continues to grow and thrive into the future. My hope for downtown is that it embraces new corporate development near public transportation to attract high tech, the creative industries, port related businesses, and other growing sectors of the economy. I also hope that investing wisely into personnel, such as a more robust homeless outreach team who can help people experiencing homelessness off the streets and into a more sustainable lifestyle, is at the forefront of Long Beach’s strategy moving forward.
The future for Downtown Long Beach will see increased residential development attracting new residents while also sustaining “upwardly mobile” existing residents who enjoy the urban lifestyle downtown provides. Trends across the country show younger generations moving back into the cities, driving up costs, yet opening up new opportunities for families to find more affordable homes in the surrounding suburbs.
All in all, the future will see Downtown Long Beach continue to improve with a strong focus on urban renewal and economic development. This future will be realized with the help of current projects already underway like the City Place mall revitalization, and new residential projects slated to begin or which have already started the construction process. It’s just a matter of time until the next crop of savvy CEOs see the economic and social benefits of opening up their businesses in our beloved coastal city.
The future for our downtown is very promising with so much development taking place, both residential and commercial. If we are going to attract more urban dwellers, they will need something more than shopping and eating to have a fuller, more meaningful quality of life.
Any sophisticated city has a vibrant arts scene. We are heading in that direction, bringing major arts organizations downtown to the Performing Arts Center. With greater city support and a major marketing effort for the arts, Long Beach has the potential to compete with other major cities. It’s also easier to get around Downtown Long Beach and it benefits from its geographic location between Los Angeles and Orange County. This can attract increased numbers of people supporting other businesses, restaurants, and other cultural activities. All this will add to the economic engine for the entire city.
International City Theatre is Long Beach’s resident professional theatre company at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center, with a national reputation for excellence and more than 350 professional awards. Because International City Theatre resides in Long Beach, it offers six distinctive educational programs serving every demographic in all nine city council districts. International City Theatre plays an important role in not only the future for a vibrant downtown but also for the present. It has been serving this diverse, amazing city for the past 31 years. International City Theatre’s reputation for presenting new works and new ideas plays a unique role in the city and the theatre world. Curtain up on the future!
While others will likely point to development, business growth, and our continued development as a destination, I would like to take a moment to speak to the role played, and the excitement generated, by the growing downtown art scene. Whether it’s fine art, street art, live music, or other forms of local culture – Long Beach remains on the front edge of the idea of city as not only venue, but also as participant in its own thriving cultural scene. From the mural project Pow! Wow!, coming into their third year in Long Beach, and their impact with regard to international press, increased visitors, and the improvement of the visual esthetic of our city, this young art project has already left a lasting imprint on Long Beach, turning our alleys and parking lots into a world class art gallery.
While it’s also early, exciting things seem to be happening at the newly revitalized Art Exchange space, where they’re boasting curation by Ron Nelson of the Long Beach Museum of Art, and a calendar and mission designed to turn this space into a hub for downtown’s growing fine art scene.
For the performance side of the art world, look no further than last year’s Music Tastes Good festival, which brought a world-class music festival to the streets of the East Village. Ambitious? Absolutely. Inspired? Unquestionably. Seamless? Not yet, but expect this fledgling crew to rise to the challenge of their amazing vision for their 2017 event.
These events, coupled with what are becoming legacy downtown events like the DLBA’s Live after Five and Summer & Music (720 Pine, Twisted, Shugazi, and Buskerfest), it’s easy to see the positive impact of creative programming in the public space. Combine it with strong support from residents and local businesses, and you have a recipe to shape not only the look and feel of downtown, but also to help it find its heartbeat.
The next few years will be pivotal for the Aquarium as we break ground on the new Pacific Visions wing, our first major expansion since we opened to the public in 1998. Slated to open in late 2018, the new wing will accommodate our growing number of visitors, making room for 2 million visitors annually. It will be a job creator and a driver of tourism in the region. Architecturally, the blue biomorphic glass façade will transform the Long Beach waterfront and serve as a modern, dynamic new landmark in the downtown area.
Featuring a high-tech interactive theater with seats for 300, an art gallery, and additional space for live animal exhibits, Pacific Visions will also change the way people view aquariums – it will be the most powerful educational platform for communicating the challenges and opportunities of the World Ocean, and it will allow people to understand the ocean in ways never before encountered in an aquarium setting. It will redefine the role of aquariums by providing state-of-the-art technology, innovative educational experiences, and powerful messages of hope and opportunity to our guests.
The City of Long Beach is playing a crucial role in this expansion as a major funder and supporter, and this partnership extends beyond construction. The Aquarium serves in an advisory capacity on helping the city become resilient to the impacts of climate change. We began to address this issue together with greater emphasis in 2015, when Mayor Robert Garcia commissioned a report from the Aquarium on the city’s vulnerability to climate change, and the work to create community-level action plans with stakeholders continues. With our community’s diverse population, important coastal infrastructure, and love of the ocean, preparing our city for climate change is both a necessity and an opportunity to use innovation and technology to make Long Beach the model of a climate resilient city.