Ten years after Florida-based Lennar Corporation bought land on the corner of Ocean Boulevard and Pacific Avenue, the company celebrated the groundbreaking of a residential project dubbed Oceanaire on December 6.


“The project here has actually been a long time in the making. Unfortunately, [we] got caught in the economic recession,” Ryan Gatchalian, president of Lennar Southern California Urban/Multifamily, said. “We always believed in the City of Long Beach and the potential of this site, and it led us to hold the property throughout that and got us here today.”

Oceanaire, a residential project on Ocean Boulevard west of Pine Avenue, broke ground on December 6. Pictured from left are: Dewey Davis, senior director of construction for LMC, a Lennar company; Tom Garlock, senior vice president of construction for LMC; Darrin Zwick, president of Zwick Construction; and LMC employees JJ Abraham, California division president; Paul Ogier, California senior vice president; Kasey Kepp, director of construction; and Ethen Thacher, director of development. (Photographs by the Business Journal’s Larry Duncan)


Initial plans for the project located at 150 W. Ocean Blvd. contained retail space on the ground floor. However, after working with city staff, the seven-story project will forgo retail and include 216 luxury studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments. Residents of Oceanaire will enjoy an activated park, a pool terrace, a gym area and 406 stalls on two levels of subterranean parking.


The building will front Ocean Boulevard, adjacent to the historic Ocean Center Building, with a multipurpose park space that will include art elements. The rear of the complex, which will be directly across Seaside Way from The Pike Outlets, will engage the community with a public dog park. A massive slide from the street level down to the dog park will also be included.


“I will say that my favorite part of this whole development is the slide. I’m very excited about the slide,” Mayor Robert Garcia said during the groundbreaking ceremony. “[It’s] pretty cool. It’s a great way to activate the space and get people involved.”


When the emcee mentioned that Amy Bodek, director of developmental services, “called dibs” on the first slide when the project is completed, Garcia could be heard from the crowd saying, “We’ll see about that.”


“We have looked at this lot with incredible potential and excitement for this last decade,” Garcia said. “It connects so many pieces of The Pike, of downtown, of Ocean [Boulevard], of the residential community. To have this connect and create the fabric of the street and pedestrian experience is really critical.”


When asked what his favorite part of the project was, Gatchalian said the Bali pool. He explained that this feature is a two-foot-deep pool that will include private alcoves for people to hang out in. Gatchalian explained that the idea came directly from pictures of a resort in Bali. He said it will create waterfront-like balconies for residents surrounding the courtyard and will include LED lights that will shine up like stars at night.


According to Kraig Kojian, president and CEO of the Downtown Long Beach Alliance, the residential units will be a welcome addition to the downtown area. He said the density of downtown is twice as high as the rest of the city with a population growing four times faster.

The site of the future Oceanaire (Photograph by the Business Journal’s Larry Duncan)


Being near the prominent corner of Ocean Boulevard and Pine Avenue, Kojian said the project’s proximity to public transportation adds value to it. The Blue Line and nearby Long Beach Transit combined with the area’s walkable and bike-friendly atmosphere will be a benefit to future residents, Kojian explained.


“We like commitments and investment in our downtown,” Kojian said. “I like holes in the ground, and I like cranes in the air. So the more we have of those, the better our downtown skyline will appear in the future. And that’s really what we’re working for.”


The project is scheduled to open during the fourth quarter of 2018, according to Gatchalian. This means it will open around the same time as phase one of the massive Long Beach Civic Center project, which began earlier this year.


“To have those projects come to life around the same time – and then the incredible work that’s happening catty-corner from here as we recreate the library and the park space – is going to be pretty spectacular,” Garcia said. “This is a part of a larger, incredible downtown puzzle.”


Darin Zwick, president and CEO of Utah-based Zwick Construction Company, said he is honored to partner with the city and Lennar to create this project at such a critical location in the downtown area. He assured that his company would construct the building to the highest standards on time and on budget.


“We believe in the people who are going to live here – the families, the individuals,” Zwick said. “This is a great day, but an even better day will be when we are all here for the grand opening.”

Brandon Richardson is a reporter and photojournalist for the Long Beach Post and Long Beach Business Journal.