After almost two decades of planning, the tallest tower in Long Beach has made its official debut.

Six months after the building welcomed its first tenants, the 35-story luxury apartment building Shoreline Gateway, at 777 E. Ocean Blvd., celebrated its official grand opening in a rooftop ceremony Wednesday night.

At about 400 feet tall, the building has taken the title of tallest building in Long Beach from the 397-foot-tall One World Trade Center, which claimed the distinction when it was completed in 1989.

City officials gathered alongside members of development teams Anderson Pacific and Ledcor, along with other groups that helped make the project possible, at Shoreline Gateway’s rooftop to reflect on the long journey toward completion.

Alanna Vicente performs with Pearls & Cocktails as entertainment during the Shoreline Gateway ribbon-cutting ceremony in Long Beach Thursday, March 30, 2022. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

Plans for the project started in 2004 on what was initially supposed to be a five-year timeline, according to Anderson Pacific President and CEO Jim Anderson.

“It was that summer that I was standing on a parking lot with some crumbling buildings and decided that this could be a great project,” Anderson said at the ceremony.

“We started on the adventure. And now 18 years later,” he said, “the timetable that we started with wasn’t exactly how it ended up.”

After several delays and redesigns, the shuttering of redevelopment agencies in California in 2012 dealt it a major blow. The site was in a redevelopment zone, so state officials told the team to cancel development entirely.

“We were told by the state to essentially break old deals that we had made, just put the property on the open market in a fire sale and see what we would get,” City Manager Tom Modica said.

Through legislative action, the city was able to keep the project, and Ledcor joined the team in 2011 and helped fill the hole the RDA left. Construction for the project finally started in 2014, and another project directly attached to Shoreline Gateway—The Current—was completed by Ledcor in 2016.

Even after The Current—a 17-story mixed-use tower with 223 luxury units that is connected to Shoreline Gateway by a joint plaza—was built, the construction of the new tower still faced challenges.

The COVID-19 pandemic presented problems like mandatory testing and cleaning for the construction crew, which slowed progress. The costs for materials also increased due to ongoing supply chain issues. Even so, the project endured and welcomed its first tenants in September.

“At long last, we have delivered a truly iconic tower that has been envisioned all these years,” Anderson said.

Now, the 35-story tower offers 315 “ultra-luxury residential apartment homes” together with amenities, community spaces and about 6,500 feet of commercial space.

Shoreline Gateway resident Ari Aldret relaxes while Elvin Anderson, center, and Ismael Chavez, right, enjoy the drinks at the Shoreline Gateway ribbon-cutting ceremony in Long Beach Thursday, March 30, 2022. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

Amenities include a residential lounge with a panoramic view on the 34th floor and a 700-gallon jellyfish tank in the main residential and leasing lobby. The second floor has an area for the tower’s pet owners that includes a dog park and pet spa.

The units themselves are a mix of studios, one- and two-bedroom apartments, ranging from 616 to 1,700 square feet. Rents start at $2,960 and go up to $15,795. Parking is also included in a 470-car subterranean structure.

For city officials, the opening of the new tallest tower in Long Beach is a sign of the city’s resilience.

“I really think this is a true success story in our city,” City Councilmember Cindy Allen said. “You have changed our skyline.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct Shoreline Gateway’s height. It is roughly 400 feet tall.

Christian May-Suzuki is a reporter at the Long Beach Business Journal.