CenterCal: The Tale of Two Waterfront Developments

Southern California developer follows The Waterfront debacle with plans to upgrade dilapidated lot.

LONG BEACH — A local developer as its eyes set on redeveloping a dilapidated piece of land across the street from Alamitos Bay Marina. CenterCal Properties, if it has its way, could convert a former hotel into a visitor-serving commercial property, with dozens of dining and retail shops a few feet away from marina slips.

The 2nd and PCH project – named after the property’s location on the corner of Second Street and Pacific Coast Highway in Long Beach – comes on the heels of CenterCal’s rough go-around with its harbor redevelopment plans in Redondo Beach.

An unoccupied, dilapidated building currently sits on the property across from Alamitos Bay Marina. The building, once a hotel-nightclub, will likely be demolished soon. In its place would be a Whole Foods and a mix of retail shops and restaurants, according to CenterCal’s plans.

Long Beach’s planning commissioners reviewed initial plans at a Sept. 7 meeting and supported CenterCal’s proposal. What remains to be seen now is whether CenterCal avoids suffering a fate similar to what happened in Redondo Beach.

CenterCal proposed redeveloping a portion of the Redondo Beach waterfront with a project it named as “The Waterfront.” The project, which carried a budget of at least $300 million, obviously had its share of supporters and dissidents. Over time the voice of the dissidents grew loud enough as to threaten The Waterfront project from becoming a reality.

The Waterfront’s opponents eventually launched a successful ballot initiative campaign, where Redondo Beach voters mandated the nature of developments the city could allow on the King Harbor waterfront. The ballot initiative – known as Measure C – essentially brought CenterCal’s ambitious project, which opponents described as a mall on the water.

The plan to modernize the King Harbor waterfront was a controversial subject even before the ballot initiative, which was voted on in March. Several Harbor Commission and City Council meetings lasted for hours on end, in recent years, to flesh out redevelopment plans. The results weren’t always consistent, either.

Of course the campaign drew the ire of The Waterfront’s supporters, some of whom accused opponents of not wanting to see an aging King Harbor upgraded and modernized, but the ambitious plan to redevelop 36 acres of King Harbor with a cinema hall, creative office spaces, dining options, a public market hall, retails shops and a boutique hotel won’t be realized in the near future.

The Waterfront also shook up Redondo Beach’s City Council. Two of the council’s five members were supporters of the slow growth ballot initiative. Voters, in a separate election, also unseated a pro-development mayor and replaced him with someone who wasn’t as savvy to CenterCal’s plans.

Public input on the 2nd and PCH project is still in its infancy. It’s too soon to predict how CenterCal’s proposal will play out. Dynamics in Long Beach are significantly different than in Redondo Beach. The former, for starters, has a population of roughly 500,000 people – compared to just shy of 70,000 residents living in the South Bay municipality.

The area surrounding 2nd and PCH also differs than the King Harbor area, mostly in the density of commercial uses immediately adjacent to the proposed development. A mall, two shopping centers and dozens of restaurants already surround the former Seaport Marina Hotel. King Harbor, conversely, lacks a mall presence and features a stronger residential component nearby.

Long Beach’s City Council, should it ultimately support CenterCal’s 2nd and PCH project, would unlikely suffer a backlash similar to what happened on the Redondo Beach dais earlier this year.

One thing both development areas have in common: a visitor-serving building would be built adjacent to a recreational boating marina.

Of course visitor-serving redevelopments are also in play at other harbors and marinas in Southern California, so the plan to draw more people to dense projects in Redondo Beach and at Alamitos Bay Marina is not unique. The question for Long Beach residents – and Alamitos Bay Marina boaters – is whether CenterCal will navigate a path as rough or rougher than it endured in Redondo Beach.

The project currently proposes a 245,000-square-foot development with a series of one- and two-story buildings. Plans will certainly be tweaked and changed as the public process moves forward. What will boaters and residents have to say about plans? Will there be some sort of NIMBY challenge or uprising preventing the project from becoming a reality? Or will the project actually benefit from a new phenomenon of YIMBYs (Yes In My Back Yard)?

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One thought on “CenterCal: The Tale of Two Waterfront Developments

  • September 28, 2017 at 1:15 pm
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    I question the need for more shopping. Within .5 miles, you have the Marketplace, Marina Pacifica, and Marina Shores malls/shopping centers. Really, we need yet another shopping facility? Also, there is no mention of “The Main Street” concept proposed by the Southeast Area Specific Plan or SEASP. Long Beach has already accepted a $929,000 grant from California Department of Conservation to help fund this project. Indicated is development for 2,500 new residential units, and reducing commercial development roughly 10%. Sounds like some conflicts of interest are looming.

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Boaters and other marina users will be directly affected by whatever is built on the former Seaport Marina Hotel property, regardless of whether CenterCal is successful in its plans. Those who use Alamitos Bay Marina to access the water – be it by boat or other vessel/craft – would most certainly have a valuable voice in determining the future use of the large piece of land across from the waterfront.

Here are a few people you can reach out to, whether you want to find out more about the project or share your opinion on CenterCal’s plans.

 

Suzie Price

City Council Member, Long Beach

suzie.price@longbeach.gov

district3@longbeach.gov

562-570-6300

 

Tom Mayes

President, Long Beach Marina Boat Owners

tom.mayes@lbmboa.org

562-570-3216

 

Cynthia Phillips

Vice President – Business Development, CenterCal

cphillips@centercal.com

424-217-2337

 

Elvira Hallinan

Manager, Long Beach Marine Bureau

elvira.hallinan@longbeach.gov

562-570-3215

 

John Ainsworth

Executive Director, California Coastal Commission

john.ainsworth@coastal.ca.gov

805-585-1500

 

Dayna Bochco

Chair, California Coastal Commission

dayna.bochco@bochomedia.com

415-904-5202

 

Effie Turnbull-Sanders

Vice-Chair, California Coastal Commission

effie.turnbull-sanders@coastal.ca.gov

415-904-5202