The years-long effort to turn the corner of 2nd and PCH into a hotel-condo-shopping and dining center has apparently been called off, in its place a request by land owners to build within zoning.
Tom Modica, the city's director of Government and Strategic Affairs, said the following in an email Tuesday night:
""An application for conceptual site plan review has been received for the Seaport Marina Hotel site for retail development."
The land in question, at the southwest corner, holds a large but low-slung pink hotel that once was graced by Elvis Presley but has not been modernized in recent years, perhaps awaiting a potential tear-down. The Long Beach hotel has been the backdrop of more than a few scenes in the Showtime series, "Dexter," about a Miami PD blood specialist.
Fans of the condo-hotel-retail project saw it as a welcome replacement on the prominent corner, which proponents dubbed a "gateway" to the city. Many Naples and Belmont Shore business owners viewed it as a potential funnel for added customers with condo residents and hotel guests. And potential tenants for restaurants and shops saw it as a potential boon and sales tax revenue. Opponents, including the City of Seal Beach, just saw it as too tall, potentially draining business from the surrounding retail, and a big traffic generator.
Retail, however, is typically a larger traffic generator than residential or a hotel, EIR consultants say.
The surprise news broke Tuesday night on lbreport.com, which reported that a conceptual design plan for a retail project had been submitted to the City of Long Beach. LBreport publisher Bill Pearl confirmed this from several sources including the city's Jackie Medina.
Later Tuesday night, Councilman Gary DeLong, who represents the area and other Eastside communities including Belmont Shore-Naples, told Pearl that he believed the new plan would fall within current coastal zoning, and not require variances that might further delay the project now years underway.
But DeLong stressed that the city's stated intention to overhaul the coastal zoning known as SEADIP will proceed. A large grant of nearly $1 million was awarded the city to help pay for that revise. It will involve environmental and other studies and encompass an area from roughly 7th Street down to the border of Seal Beach.
Patch contacted DeLong, who was in a City Council meeting, as well as Medina, who is in the city development office. We also spoke with David Malmuth, who had shepherded the hotel-condo-dining project through several years of public meetings and debate.
But in another surprise, he said he was no longer with the property's development, and referred questions to property owner Raymond Lin. We await his response from our e-mail, but it was 8:30 p.m. Tuesday.
To read more details, click here.
With the same land owner, the Lin family, but a prior development company, the proposal to build taller, denser and outside the existing zoning, has spanned several years. That lack of any new building, as well as the planning process, has been costly, Lin and Malmuth have said.
The week before Christmas, the Long Beach City Council denied the project. DeLong, Rober Garcia and Rae Gabelich supported the project; Gerrie Schipske, Patrick O'Donnell, Suja Lowenthal, Steve Neal and Dee Andrews voted against it. (James Johnson had earlier made clear that he could not attend the meeting.)
Afterward, Malmuth said the plan was dead. But several weeks later, he vowed to come up with a plan all of the Council could live with. Wetlands advocates favored building within current zoning. The California Coastal Commission had written a letter to the city, essentially urging it to re-examine a wider chunk of East Long Beach that included more acreage for a comprehensive zoning plan.
The City Council is moving ahead with plans to overhaul SEADIP.
The first project with a company called Lennar did not win final approval. The current effort, led by a well-known San Diego developer, David Malmuth, and at times aided by the well-connected late Sean Lumachi, found greater acceptance. It was partly due to considerable community effort and meetings by Malmuth's team.
But Malmuth had expressed that the revamping of SEADIP would be a costly time delay.
The question now is, what retail? The zoning right now would allow a considerable amount, more than one "Big Box" store, at minimum.
Whether coincidence or not, the domain name for www.secondandpch.com expired May 13, 2012.