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The corner of Ocean and Pine was once a bustling epicenter of activity, if not the epicenter of activity in Long Beach: the intersection was seeing some 4,000 cross the intersection per hour on the weekend—a number we could only hope for in a single day in 2018—and it prompted then-Councilmember Alexander Beck to create the famed Jergins Tunnel to move people more safely and efficiently.
Hotel investors are seeking to grasp that sense of human activity once more and, if their plans follow through, Ocean and Pine won’t ever look the same again.
While investors Pacific6 recently announced their plans to return the dilapidated and abandoned historic Ocean Center building into residences across the street, China-owned, Seattle-based American Life, Inc. have released updated renderings for their 36-story hotel at the southeast corner (and could surpass the Shoreline Gateway as the tallest building in the city should both be built).
Originally a 25-story mixed-use hotel development when first proposed to the City, the massive structure faces many contingencies.
While smaller projects—like Parc Broadway, OceanAire, and the Seaside Way projects—have finally broken ground and are slowly taking shape, much more massive projects like the Broadway Block development remain the same as they did when they were sold nearly two years ago.
Formerly home to the Jergins Trust Building, the Ocean and Pine property I’m highlighting sold for $7M. American Life ousted Long Beach-based developer Ensemble (the latter of which has taken on two residential developments that lack density and height: a five-story building at 247 Seaside and another five-story stub at 442 Ocean).
While Ensemble’s bid for the site remains a mystery, what American Life could bring to the table is impressive: 429 hotel rooms spread across 30 stories that sit above 22,500 sq. ft. of meeting and pre-function space, below and above grade parking, 8,000 sq. ft. of restaurant space, and 28,000 sq. ft. of guest amenities, including a pool and sun deck. Even more, the project is also expected to incorporate a portion of Victory Park, which is now home to slowly dilapidating, once-awesome Loop as well as provide 361 long-term jobs and 1,701 short-term jobs.
And what is on everyone’s mind: the aforementioned Jergins Tunnel. The developer has agreed to incorporate the tunnel into its design somehow, providing public access to the long-shuttered but much-revered tunnel.
“This particular site is extremely important to the City of Long Beach,” said former Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal during the time the project was approved. “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.”
There’s an interesting caveat to the whole deal: it hinges on a transient occupancy tax (TOT) agreement where the City shares part of that tax with the developer. The amount? 50%. That’s right: American Life will keep 50% of the TOT revenue, or what is estimated to provide the development with some $27M over a 20-year period.
The reason? To fill an “economic gap” of about $47M between the estimated cost of construction and the value of the future development.
Should the City disagree with the hotel brand chosen to represent the space, the contract can be terminated (and let’s hope we don’t get an empty lot for another 30 years).