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Perspectives On Downtown Long Beach

Charlie Beirne
General Manager, Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center

The Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center is very fortunate to be a part of the reimaging of the downtown. The changing landscape for new residential units, additional hotels, and hotels with major renovations will add to the Convention Center’s business models.

The new hotel rooms will allow the Center and our partner, the Convention & Visitors Bureau, to secure new business that may have been out of our reach in previous years, allowing us to attract new associations and corporate clients to our Center.

With the new residential units under construction, the residents will be able to attend the first-class arts programs at the Terrace Theater and Beverly O’Neill Theater, and the increased attendance with help all the arts programs and theater events well into the future.

Trends in the convention industry are ever changing with attendees requiring turnkey event spaces, areas where they can connect and communicate in a more personable setting. We feel that the Center has been the leader in the industry regarding these trends. However, we could not have been in this position without our partners, the City of Long Beach and the Convention & Visitors Bureau recognizing these trends and providing the direction to have the Center in the forefront of this trend.

Finally, our attendees are constantly looking for a downtown that is walkable and safe. A downtown that provides first-class dining and shopping during their visit to our destination. Not only does our downtown provide these amenities now, but the downtown is positioning for many added amenities in the future.

Randal Hernandez
Chair, Long Beach Economic Development Commission and Executive Director External Affairs, Verizon

The current development boom taking place downtown has fostered new investment and economic opportunities across the city making Long Beach one of the most desired places to live, work, and play in Southern California.

The current and planned developments in downtown will enrich the city’s fabric and are creating a spectacular new skyline.  In 2019, we will see the completion of the first phase of Long Beach’s innovative new Civic Center, the nation’s largest municipal P3 (Public-Private-Partnership). The project has catalyzed nearly 2,500 housing units and over 200,00 square feet of new retail space in the surrounding area, providing new housing and business opportunities.

This explosive growth in the downtown core is fueled by the City’s commitment to a 10-year “Blueprint for Economic Development” that was finalized in early 2018. At the heart of the Blueprint is a vision to create opportunities for workers, investors and entrepreneurs. In partnership with the Economic Development Commission, City staff have been working to enhance business development programs and regulatory processes to attract additional private investment.  Next year, the Commission will focus its efforts on economic inclusion, small business growth and further strengthening the city’s workforce. Another aspect of the Blueprint involves promoting Long Beach as a destination for entrepreneurs and innovators by positioning the city as one of the world’s most livable, inventive and inclusive cities.

The city’s combination of a vibrant downtown, a business-friendly environment, and access to global markets makes Long Beach a compelling city to explore for new investment. The economic opportunities in Long Beach are indeed “limitless.”

Russ Hill
Chairman & CEO, Halbert Hargrove

Great downtowns are not only self-sufficient in terms of culture, industry, housing, and creature comforts. They feed far more than themselves, providing sustenance to the regions that surround them.

All of us headquartered in Downtown Long Beach over the past two decades can attest to a stunning transformation. My firm, Halbert Hargrove, has been rooted here for 85 years, always with a home on Pine Avenue. Having worked here for more than 40 years, I can certainly recall a period when “thriving” was not what came to mind in describing our downtown.

Our political and community leaders have led the current renaissance. In discussing the bright future of downtown Long Beach, I’m compelled to point to the founding and growth of the Aquarium of the Pacific, which has been an anchor for redevelopment and impact—and critically, has helped put us on the map as a major American city. In 1994, I took part in a volunteer group convened by Mayor Beverly O’Neill to envision a new undertaking for the marina site. Today, we’re celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Aquarium, a world-class educational and research institution committed to safeguarding our oceans.

With the addition of the Aquarium’s Pacific Visions wing next spring, some two million visitors are projected to visit annually. In the sphere of global influence, the Aquarium’s footprint is significant. It takes enormous engagement by many community partners to inspire, build, and sustain a great downtown; we’re fortunate to have the Aquarium help lead the way.

John Molina
Founding Partner, Pacific6 Enterprises

As a long-time downtown business resident, I’ve had the great pleasure of observing the downtown Long Beach renaissance first hand and predict a bright future ahead.

From our past personal and professional involvement in the Press-Telegram, Meeker Baker and ARCO Center investments, to Pacific6’s current investments in the Breakers Hotel and Ocean Center Building, we’re putting our money where our mouth is, participating in the continued revitalization of the downtown and assisting in making that vital connection between the downtown and waterfront districts.

As active participants in local organizations such as the Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Downtown Long Beach Alliance, we are fully invested in not only our projects but all projects currently planned and underway. They say it takes a village, but it takes more than that – it takes an engaged, active community of individuals, business owners and government officials each doing their part to activate and sustain a vibrant, exciting and profitable downtown.

I speak for myself, my family and my partners at Pacific6 when I say that we all feel so very fortunate and grateful to have such a tremendous municipal government, from the Mayor on down, as well as organizations such as the CVB and DLBA, that share a common love and enthusiasm for our City, its diverse residents and amazing downtown district.

We’re so very proud to be part of the Downtown’s historic past, exciting present and limitless future!

Alan Pullman
Founder, Studio One Eleven

Our architecture and urban design firm, Studio One Eleven, facilitated a community visioning process for Downtown in 2005. That process culminated in a document called “Waterfront Metropolis” which formed the basis of the Downtown Plan. As Downtown Long Beach continues its renaissance as the cultural and commercial center of the City, it’s heartening to see many of the concepts called out in the vision plan are coming into realization. New mixed-use buildings are replacing the gaps in downtown’s urban fabric caused by surface parking and vacant lots. New towers and revived existing structures are transforming our streetscapes and skyline, attracting new residents who will contribute to the local economy. A new Civic Center, Library and revived Lincoln Park are revitalizing the civic heart of the City. With the success of that vision of course come issues of equity. Downtown will be at the center of continuing conversations about rising rents and displacement, difficult but unavoidable dialogue, the outcome of which will shape the expectations of future development.

As for future urban design and planning for downtown, upcoming opportunities should focus on the waterfront. While the downtown community plan had an emphasis on the core, the stretch of the City from Alamitos Beach to the lower L.A. River is now ripe for revitalization, with an opportunity to replace the automobile dominated infrastructure currently in place with human-focused place-making and additional community uses. Having the waterfront selected as one of the 2028 Olympics’ premier venues can act as a catalyst for the creation of a true world-class waterfront.

Hilda Sanchez
Owner, Minuteman Press

Downtown today is vibrant, active, fun. So different from when we opened our doors in 2002. It even has an acronym – DTLB. Who would have imagined that in 2002? It’s been exciting watching the growth. Families are out in the evening, walking with their kids and their pets and business people are out at lunch or happy hour. Of course, with more people come issues, but the positives definitely outnumber those.

For us at Minuteman Press, the changes have been good. More businesses in close proximity to us means more potential customers. And while the construction that’s going on adds to the number of businesses, it also has an upscaling factor. Neighboring businesses or buildings then decide to upgrade their look too. We upgraded our facade a couple of years ago and our lobby earlier this year. We’re not alone in our efforts to spruce ourselves up, plenty of others are doing it too – and on a bigger scale than what we did.

I still see more growth for DTLB. While the big growth spurt may have already peaked, at least in terms of approved and/or under construction sites, there still is room for more. Now people and businesses are moving in to all the nice new buildings and that will continue as the new sites are completed. The additional people and businesses will only continue to add to the energy level. Plus, they will generate further needs that will extend the growth yet some more. Life is still good in DTLB.

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