One thing that’s nice about Long Beach is it’s full of job opportunities for those who work in construction, as I’m sure you’ve noticed the many development projects that pop up frequently.
Part of this is due to Measure A, a historic Long Beach initiative approved in 2016, which created a 10-year sales tax increase to fund public infrastructure. This is why so many streets in my neighborhood are being repaved and why Broadway has had orange tape streaming from Redondo to Alamitos for months now.
The other reason is the many developments going up as part of a larger revitalization of downtown. I’d like to say that the city’s population is growing, and the many building projects you see are the city’s response to that growth, but in the last two years the population has actually decreased. In the past 20 years the population has only increased by 1.9 percent.
Now I know what you must be thinking: “Well of course the population is going down, don’t you know It’s impossible to find affordable living in Long Beach?” And you wouldn’t be wrong, it is very difficult to find somewhere to live. You would, however, probably be wrong to assume that most of these new structures are going to change that.
Do yourself a favor and look up a map of all the planned development projects in Long Beach; it’s quite expansive, and frankly, impressive. There are new plans for the Queen Mary, the aquarium and several apartment buildings, all concentrated in the 90802 downtown area.
Now, the median price of homes currently listed in 90802 is $454,500, and the median rent price is $1,995, which might surprise you to find out is actually lower than the Long Beach median of $2,200.
As a student who would love to continue living in Long Beach after graduation, these numbers are scary, but with the amount of money being thrown into revitalizing downtown, these numbers can only get higher. While not wanting to sound like some curmudgeon protesting progress for cheaper rent, I love Long Beach for what it is, a city that, despite being the seventh largest in the state, still somehow feels like a small town with community-oriented attitudes.
Looking at some of these projects like the Civic Center, which is undergoing a $900 million dollar renovation (the largest public-private development of its kind on the West Coast according to an LA Times article published earlier this year) and the 35-story Shoreline Gateway Tower which broke grounds just last week, intended to be Long Beach’s tallest structure. I look at these plans going forward and fear we’re one step closer to becoming Los Angeles, and I am one step closer to getting pushed out of Long Beach.
Speaking of moving, many who have just recently moved into The Current, the 17-story luxury apartment building finished last year, now have all this pretty construction to look at. The Shoreline Tower was planned by the same developers as the Current, and includes a plaza connecting the structures.
Poki Cat, a small SoCal poke restaurant chain opened its second location in the Current. Investor Jennifer Gao said of course she is worried about construction hurting her business. It’s only been a week and she’s already seen signs of slowing.
And how could she not? This huge project has taken over any available parking there was, obscured the view of the restaurant from the street and reduced foot traffic. Of course, once the building is done she’s excited about the business it will yield, but that is assuming it survives three years of construction.
It’s hard to know what changes three years will bring, but one constant Long Beach can count on is construction on one of the biggest intersections in the city. The building isn’t scheduled to be complete until late 2021, the first year of which will just be spent below ground on the five-level subterranean parking structure. So if you were hoping for lanes on Ocean Ave. to start opening back up soon, you can just forget about it.
You might be asking, “If we’re in a housing crisis isn’t the solution to create more housing?” But this building is going to be condos for sale, perched up on one of the last little parcels of undeveloped land in Long Beach with an ocean view.
To break down Long Beach real estate, having an ocean view is like having the only water bottle in a vast desert and you never ever give it up to anybody except maybe a loved one once you die. The purpose of this building is to appease all those Richie Rich’s that never got theirs.
I love Long Beach, and I don’t want to be the person who discourages growth. But other than years of traffic cones and construction zones, there are deeper implications to boosting our metropolitan status and further gentrification of this city.