A developer has proposed a 21-story residential tower for the former Long Beach Cafe property in Downtown. Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. Photo by Brandon Richardson.

Long Beach Cafe and its small parking lot have been fenced off since the popular Downtown diner succumbed to the pandemic over two years ago. Now, a developer is proposing a residential tower with hundreds of units for the site.

Burnham Development, a Long Beach-based consultant for property owners and developers, has proposed a 21-story project consisting of 203 residential units, Long Beach Development Services spokesperson Chelsey Magallon confirmed.

It is unclear if Burnham is representing a developer during the entitlement process or if the company is entitling the site to then be sold to a developer.

The firm did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Located at 615 E. Ocean Blvd., the project would include parking, both above and below grade. Residential common areas would be provided at ground level as well as on the 14th, 15th and 21st floors. The project includes a rooftop pool and community room.

The development would be located between The Current, a 17-story residential building with 223 units, and the eight-story Artaban Apartments building.

Unless the developer pays additional fees, 11% of the units would be required to be designated as affordable units for low-income residents due to the city’s inclusionary housing policy.

Further details about the proposed project, including estimated cost, amount of parking, whether it will include ground-floor commercial space or specific resident amenities, were not available.

A rendering of the 21-story, 203-unit tower proposed for the former Long Beach Cafe property at 615 E. Ocean Blvd. Courtesy of Burnham Development.

Burnham has completed conceptual site plan review, which is an advisory-only process with the city, according to Magallon. The city is awaiting Burnham’s submission of its full entitlement package, “which would grant the land use approvals that are needed before the developer can apply for building permits,” she said.

Once the entitlement package is submitted, the review process will take four to six months, Magallon said. Then, when the review is complete, the proposal will go to the Planning Commission for approval.

While additional housing is needed throughout Long Beach and the state as a whole, this particular development only became possible because of the loss of a city staple: Long Beach Cafe.

Like so many other businesses in Long Beach and around the world, the diner closed its doors for good in the summer of 2020 after serving residents and visitors for more than three decades.

“To all our valued customers. We were forced to permanently close due to COVID-19. Thank you for 32 years of your support,” owner Nick Stanitsas wrote on the restaurant’s Yelp page in July 2020.

Brothers Nick and George Stanitsas were veterans in the industry, having been in the food business since the 1960s. The pair opened Long Beach Cafe in 1988.

Burnham Development, which offers developers a host of services, including development strategy and assistance navigating the entitlement and permitting processes, has had a hand in nearly two dozen Long Beach projects since being founded by Derek Burnham in 2013. According to its website, the firm has consulted on new multifamily developments, adaptive reuse projects, restaurant and office remodels, and single-family and townhouse developments.

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