The Long Beach City Council has approved a proposal for Seattle-based developer American Life, Inc. to build a 25-story hotel and business center at the southeast corner of  Ocean Boulevard and Pine Avenue in Downtown Long Beach. The site ­has sat vacant for almost 30 years.


The city is selling the property, which was once owned by the former Long Beach Redevelopment Agency (RDA), to the developer for $7 million.

This rendering shows the initial design of a 25-story hotel and business center proposed by Seattle-based American Life, Inc. at Ocean Boulevard and Pine Avenue  (Rendering provided by City of Long Beach)


Tonight, May 24, the city council will consider three more development proposals slated for former RDA property. The proposals include: an apartment complex with flexible work/co-work space at Broadway and The Promenade; business incubator and co-working space to attract small, creative companies at 120 E. 3rd St.; and a live/work urban townhome project near the corner of Sunset Street and Long Beach Boulevard.


During the city council meeting earlier this month, city councilmembers applauded the proposal to build a new hotel and business center at 100 E. Ocean Blvd., which has remained empty and mostly underutilized since 1988, when the historic Jergins Trust Building was demolished.


“This particular site is extremely important to the City of Long Beach,” said Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal, who represents the 2nd District downtown and has been involved in efforts to develop the site for more than eight years. “This is a site that we have protected and guarded, and wanted to make sure that we waited for a development opportunity that allows it to be somewhat of a jewel in the crown.”


The project, which is adjacent to the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center, calls for a 25-story building with possibly 427 hotel rooms, 19,000 square feet of pre-function space and meeting rooms, 8,000 square feet of restaurant space and 28,000 square feet of guest amenities, including a pool and sun deck, according to city staff.


For the project to move forward, the city council approved entering into a transient occupancy tax (TOT) sharing agreement that would, once the project is built, allow the buyer/developer to keep 50 percent of TOT revenue, estimated to be a total of $27 million over a 20-year term.


According to a city staff report, the TOT sharing agreement is “mutually beneficial and an essential requirement for development of the project.” City staff states that tax-sharing agreement will help fill an “economic gap” of about $47 million between the estimated cost of construction and the value of the future development.


Michael Conway, the city’s director of economic and property development, said during the council meeting that moving forward with the TOT-sharing agreement is a “fiscally prudent choice,” noting that the vacant property currently brings in no revenue.


City staff states that the project is expected to generate 361 long-term jobs and 1,701 short-term jobs.


In addition, the developer/buyer has agreed to incorporate into the design a way to open up public access to the Jergins tunnel, considered a part of the city’s history (see explanation in adjacent box). City staff said ways to activate the Jergins tunnel will be further discussed during the due diligence and entitlement phase of the project.


The project is also expected to incorporate the restoration and redevelopment of a portion of Victory Park, which fronts Ocean Boulevard.


Furthermore, the proposal requires that American Life propose a project labor agreement for construction in addition to a “card-check” agreement that would give future hotel workers the option to join a union.


The purchase and sale agreement, meanwhile, includes a unilateral termination right at the end of the due diligence period that gives the city the right to terminate the agreement if the city is not satisfied with the hotel brand recommended by the buyer/developer with the exception of any 4-Star hotel brand.


Other Developments

During tonight’s (May 24) meeting, the city council will consider three other development projects proposed on former RDA property.


The city council will vote on whether to move forward with a proposal by Laguna Beach-based Raintree-Evergreen LLC to build an apartment complex and work/co-work flexible space, electric vehicle charging stations and bicycle storage with workspace at the northwest corner of the intersection of Broadway and The Promenade North. The city is selling the former RDA property to the developer/buyer for $8.2 million.


Another proposal involves plans by Long Beach-based William Morris Commercial, Inc. to build “an exciting mix of frontline business incubator and co-working space that aspires to attract emerging small and creative companies” at a former RDA site at 120 E. 3rd St., according to a city staff report. The city is selling the property for $480,000.


Lastly, Irvine-based City Ventures proposes to build a live/work urban townhome project on former RDA property near the corner of Sunset Street and Long Beach Boulevard in North Long Beach. According to a city staff report, the project will consist of 42 townhomes, each with a two-car garage, and an additional 35 guest parking spaces. The city is selling the property to the developer/buyer for $2.5 million.