Long Beach, News

VIP Records sign saved, Aquarium of the Pacific receives loan

Long Beach’s world famous VIP Records sign will be relocated and made into a historical landmark after receiving unanimous approval from city council Tuesday night.

The record store is known locally and internationally as a hip-hop icon, being the starting place of many artists such as Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg and Warren G.

“This is certainly about preserving the VIP legacy, but it’s also about the history of Long Beach, and I think we have to honor all of our history,” said Mayor Robert Garcia. “Not only is VIP Records an important part of the history of Long Beach and the development of music, it’s also an important part of black history, and it’s important to recognize that within our African American community.”

The city is providing $80,000 toward the sign’s preservation, storage and relocation. It is currently residing in the sixth district on Pacific Coast Highway in central Long Beach and does not have a future location picked. The council is trying to keep the historic sign in the city and will have to give a written approval to move it outside of Long Beach.

Kelvin Anderson, owner of VIP Records, will retain full ownership over the sign while going through the application process to make it into a historic landmark, relocate and install it.

“This is more than just a record store, this is more than just vinyls, this is more than just the history. This is more than anything you can possibly imagine, this is a worldwide phenomenon that we are sitting in our own community,” said Carrie Johnson, student at Long Beach City College. “This vote is important to our African American community and all people of color in our community that need to be represented.”

The agreement made between Anderson and the city is the result of months of meetings and multiple petitions. There was a miscommunication between Anderson and the council back in March on whether the sign would become city property or remain Anderson’s. Since then, the miscommunication had been cleared up and they were able to come to an agreement.  At the meeting, Mayor Garcia thanked Anderson for all his work as a small business owner that he has done for the city.

The sign will find its new home over the next two years.

Council also approved a $10.5 million loan to the Aquarium of the Pacific to go towards its Pacific Visions expansion.

The expansion will include an immersive Honda Pacific Visions theater that will be used as both an educational and entertainment facility, according to city staff. Multiple galleries will also be installed, including a changing exhibit gallery, art gallery and orientation gallery.

Aquarium of the Pacific has already raised $43 million towards the expansion from private funds and grants, with the city providing the last $10 million the aquarium needed to get the project started. The loan is coming from the city’s Tidelands Fund, which has an area specifically for the Aquarium of the Pacific, and will not affect any other Tidelands projects such as the Queen Mary and Rainbow Harbor area.

“Essentially, the city will be getting a $53 million facility for $15 million in city investment and allow our wonderful educational institution, the Aquarium of the Pacific, to grow and thrive,” said City Assistant Manager Tom Modica.

Modica said the aquarium has had its most successful year yet, bringing in roughly $1.8 million. The city will receive the payment back in full over the next 10 years and .5 percent in interest.

Despite the amount of funding the aquarium will receive, the council wants to keep a level of transparency between the city and the aquarium. The aquarium must inform the city if any of its funding changes over the next 10 years.

The expansion is scheduled to be revealed to the public by 2018.

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