Long Beach Civic Center, Queen Mary Project Expected To Bring More People Downtown

By Karen Jordan | Bisnow

Many are anticipating the construction of the new Long Beach Civic Center.

When it is built, it will mark the first time a U.S. municipal government will deliver a city asset under a performance-based “design-build-finance-maintain” structure, according to Plenary Concessions Executive Chairman Dale Bonner.

The public-private partnership model is allowing the City of Long Beach to use a creative approach to meet all of the city's financial and project goals.

Plenary Properties Long Beach will develop, design, build and also finance the new Long Beach Civic Center, then manage its operations for a 40-year period, according to Bonner.

"The reason we were able to do this project is because it was so complex and involved the design and build piece, plus they were able to leverage financing for multiple aspects of the project whether it was just the construction loans or if it was the financing on the commercial and residential tower," City of Long Beach Director John Keisler said.

Gov. Jerry Brown had to approve this particular model being used for a government facility, according to Keisler.

The $520M project will replace Long Beach City Hall and serve as the new offices for the Port of Long Beach. The hybrid development will also include a new library, mixed-use, retail, residential, a hotel and a public park.

The architect is Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, and Johnson Controls is also working on the project. The builder is Clark Construction Group.

"Long Beach is sort of on the cutting edge in using real estate assets to help subsidize some of the costs of infrastructure," Bonner said.

The city wants to use the project to revitalize the downtown Long Beach corridor,  Bonner said at Thursday's Bisnow Long Beach Boom event.

The first seismic study was completed in 2005, according to Keisler. The city council approved the project two years ago.

The new City Hall, new main library and the port headquarters are expected to be completed in 2019 with an occupancy date scheduled for June 30 of that year, Keisler said.

The city hopes to attract more people to downtown Long Beach with the new Long Beach Civic Center.

"Long Beach seems to have arrived at this point," Raintree Partners Vice President of Development Rick Price said.

He said the proof is in the increased retail added in the past couple of years and that the streets are filled with more people.

Some of the big projects include The Current at 707 East Ocean Blvd. It was built a year ago and has studios, and one- and two-bedroom apartments.

All of its 223 units are fully leased, according to AndersonPacific Executive Vice President Ryan Altoon. Half of the tenants already lived in Long Beach.

Another major project that will impact downtown Long Beach in the coming years is the $250M project to develop the land adjacent to the Queen Mary.

"It's a phenomenal iconic treasure," Urban Commons Principal Taylor Woods said of the ship.

The plans include building a venue that could be similar to the Hollywood Bowl and 400K SF of retail that would include restaurants, bars and adventure, including synthetic surfing and scuba diving, and entertainment.

Urban Commons operates the Queen Mary under a lease from the city.

Ocean West Capital Partners Director Ryan Tucker said the Queen Mary project will help raise the visibility of Long Beach statewide.