The Housing Chronicles Blog: Downtown Long Beach: the San Diego of Southern California

Monday, January 21, 2008

Downtown Long Beach: the San Diego of Southern California

Although I don't still live in Long Beach, I have deep roots there: I was born there, my mother was born there, and my Dad's family moved from Pennsylvania in the mid 1940s, arriving by train the same day WWII ended (talk about a great way to start a new life!). But when I was growing up, downtown Long Beach wasn't the place to be-- it was the place to avoid. Even with a new large central library and city hall in the late 1970s, it always seemed that the city's attempts at redevelopment were destined to fail.

Until now.

Even though some large residential projects have been put on hold due the current slump, today's downtown Long Beach, with its popular Pine Avenue music scene, convention center complex and The Pike at Long Beach retail center has made it a Southern California "it" place in a very short period of time. My response? FINALLY!

In fact, due to Long Beach's location near the ocean, its walkable downtown core, its numerous entertainment options and its convention center, its redevelopment timeline may mirror that of San Diego's more directly than that of downtown Los Angeles, which is much larger in scope, still lacks many amenities for residents, has a serious homeless problem and is 20 miles from the ocean. It'll get there eventually, but it's going to take longer.

I'm only mentioning this because there's a story in today's Press-Telegram about the grand opening of West Ocean, a two-building, high-rise condominium project with views of the harbor and the downtown area that could help launch a new era for architecture and design in a fairly old city.

As a Long Beach native, I'm proud of my work on West Ocean as a consultant, in which I reviewed the current comps (there were none, so we had to look at resales and high-rise condos in other areas such as downtown L.A., the Wilshire Corridor and even San Diego), determined potential buyer profiles and set base prices as well as premiums for floor level, natural light orientation and views. Since we didn't have a budget for a helicopter, I snuck into an adjacent building to see what the views would be like from the southern-facing elevator lobby on various floors.

It's good to see that the LBC has finally arrived.

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