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East Village getting new, 7-story apartment building next to historic hotels

Release Date: 2017-11-07

Another apartment complex, this one an 82-unit building, has a green light for construction in downtown Long Beach.

Long Beach Planning Commissioners gave their unanimous approval Thursday, Nov. 2, for plans to build a new seven-story structure at 135 Linden Ave., in the East Village Arts District area of downtown. Planning commissioners approved the project after receiving letters and testimony in both support and opposition to the project, and objections to the developer’s plans included the familiar contention that additional construction will exacerbate parking shortages in the downtown area.

Commissioners also voted to approve city government’s plans to expand the Houghton Community Center in North Long Beach, and agreed to delay a decision on whether to allow an East Long Beach cinema to serve alcoholic beverages to an undetermined date.

The planned apartment tower at 135 Linden Ave. has letters of support from both Mayor Robert Garcia and the Downtown Long Beach Alliance, a group charged with promoting downtown area business interests. Plans call for the building to be constructed on what’s currently a parking lot adjacent to the historic Broadlind Hotel.

“The proposed Residences at Linden project aligns with the goals set forth in the Downtown Plan and will bring desperately-needed high-quality housing to Long Beach,” DLBA Chief Executive Kraig Kojian wrote in his letter to commissioners.

The Downtown Plan, which the City Council approved in 2012, changed the rules for what kind of developments are allowed in the city’s core. Broadly, the plan aims to make downtown Long Beach a more urban place by allowing tower buildings and a greater concentration of dwellings than what was allowed previously.

Although the mayor and other supporters of density view the city’s planning strategies for downtown as a benefit for the downtown economy — put simply, more residents means existing and future business owners can count on more potential customers — the plan has attracted criticism from housing advocates who have themselves contended that drawing high-end developments to downtown is pricing out longtime residents.

There are also objections from existing residents who say bringing more dwellings to places like downtown or nearby Alamitos Beach disrupts their lives by adding to the difficulties of finding parking spaces.

A local advocacy group called Long Beach Transportation and Parking Solutions, or TAPS, had filed three lawsuits against City Hall over property sales to developers with designs on new downtown construction. The two sides reached a settlement nearly one year ago calling for City Hall to conduct parking studies and set aside money for parking improvements. The deal also required TAPS to forego its ability to sue over development issues, pending future City Hall actions on the parking studies.

TAPS’ leader Debbie Dobias spoke against the project Thursday. She told commissioners that she wants a moratorium on new approvals until the parking study is completed, which she said may happen next year.

“We need someone to step in and stop this madness,” she said.

Plans call for the new building call for four-level parking structure with its lower two levels underground, according to a staff report. Although Downtown Plan rules would require the building to have 103 spaces, the developer’s proposal calls for the construction of 135 spaces that include 17 spots to be reserved for the Broadlind Hotel.

Developer Andrew Ranallo of Residences at Linden, LLC in Costa Mesa told commissioners that since 10 of planned spots are tandem parking spaces, the building would effectively have 145 parking spaces.

Building plans also call for the construction of nearly 4,100 square feet of commercial space.

Community Center decision
Commissioners also voted to approve plans for to expand and renovate the Houghton Community Center, at 6301 Myrtle Ave. in North Long Beach. The first phase of city government’s plans call for the construction of a 6,480-square-foot expansion with new multipurpose rooms. Long Beach officials look forward to future work that’s set to include partial renovations of the existing facility and a parking lot expansion.

Planning Commission members did not, however, decide whether Edwards Long Beach Stadium 26 & Imax operators can have permission to serve beer and wine. City staffers support those plans, but a vote was delayed at the applicant’s request.

A similar delay happened in October, so the question is set to return to commissioners at some point in the future.