By Paul Eakins, Staff Writer, Press-Telegram
Downtown Pacific Avenue may have sat in the shadow of Pine Avenue for years, but newly elected 1st District Councilman Robert Garcia hopes to change that.
Garcia announced Thursday that he is creating a Pacific Avenue Revitalization Plan.
"Pacific Avenue is one of the most underutilized streets downtown and in the whole city, but it's a great street," Garcia said.
Garcia is initiating the plan as part of his campaign promise to revitalize business corridors, he said. He was elected April 7 in a special election to replace Bonnie Lowenthal, who is now in the state Assembly, and took office May 5.
Pacific Avenue is the "little sister of Pine Avenue" and is often overshadowed by the more popular downtown street one block to the east, he said.
Garcia said his council staff and city staff members will begin walking door to door along Pacific Avenue in the coming weeks to invite residents and business owners to a kickoff meeting in July. A task force will be formed to help guide the revitalization work, he said.
"We want the people that actually live and work on Pacific Avenue," he said.
Garcia said the first phase of the plan should begin this summer and will include business facade improvements, planting trees, painting businesses and giving a facelift to some residential properties.
The work will be funded through grants, the Long Beach Redevelopment Agency and hopefully other entities such as Downtown Long Beach Associates, Garcia said. He said he hopes to see residents and business owners take extra steps to beautify their properties as well.
In the meantime, a master plan will be developed to take on long-term projects such as building bike lanes and recruiting businesses, Garcia said.
Larry Black, owner of The Varden Hotel, 335 Pacific Ave., said the revitalization plan would be "fabulous" for Pacific Avenue.
"I think it sort of has been forgotten," Black said. "When I bought the Varden 22 years ago, everyone said you're going a block off of Pine (Avenue), off the beaten path."
But Pacific Avenue has a unique character, he said.
"I think it has huge potential," Black said.