Press-Telegram lofts are go
Condominium project will create 542 homes at paper’s old site.
By Don Jergler, Staff writer
Article Launched: 04/17/2007 10:36:24 PM PDT
LONG BEACH – The City Council on Tuesday approved the Press-Telegram Lofts condominium project on Pine Avenue and Sixth Street.
The approval followed an overwhelming show of support at the meeting – even from those who wanted more restrictions on the project.
The council’s 6-2 vote on Tuesday gives the go-ahead for the construction of two 22-story towers with 542 condominiums on the block bordered by Sixth and Seventh streets, Locust Street and Pine Avenue that includes the historic Press-Telegram building. Developers will retain and restore the 1924 building’s facades.
Council members Bonnie Lowenthal and Suja Lowenthal delivered the opposing votes.
The P-T Lofts project will also provide 60 affordable housing units to Cal State Long Beach for faculty and staff, as well as space for the Long Beach Arts Council.
The council’s vote came after a two-hour debate, but the discussion didn’t revolve around approving the project.
The most contentious issues were whether to put restrictions on the project in regard to parking and deeds for the CSULB housing units.
At one point in the meeting, Jim Brophy, with P-T Lofts developer October Five, asked everyone who was there to support the project to stand. Roughly two-thirds of the room stood.
CSULB faculty and staff were also there to support the project, which they said was vital to the institution because of a housing shortage – 30 percent of the faculty are renting, according to the school.
“We’re competing with the best and we’re bringing in many of the best,” said CSULB President F. King Alexander, adding that the school is losing quality professors to institutions in more affordable areas.
Alexander also stated a desire for CSULB to have a strong presence downtown.
“Great universities make great cities and vice versa,” he said.
Even those who spoke against details of the project spoke in favor of P-T Lofts.
“We’re thrilled that Cal State Long Beach will have a presence downtown,” said Cheryl Perry, with Wilmore City Heritage.
Perry and others wanted the city to require developers to provide more parking and to ensure the affordable units being sold to CSULB at developer cost stay in the university’s possession in perpetuity.
They also wanted the city to require a written agreement from the developer that CSULB would be provided those units.
Development plans call for 1,186 parking spaces, 92 fewer spaces than required by city codes.
In a parking-impacted area, every space counts, especially when you factor in expected downtown growth, argued Shirley Buchanan, with the West End Community Association.
“Only time will tell if the 1,186 parking spaces will work,” she said.
Resident Tom Martin said he supports the project, “but we need something so that parking is addressed.”
However, the developers argued that the project provides more than enough parking and that the nearby CityPlace parking structures are under-utilized.
The sticking point came when City Councilwoman Bonnie Lowenthal, in whose 1st District the project lies, introduced a last-minute agreement with the developer to require deed restrictions on the CSULB units, offer mass-transit parking solutions and more public parking spaces, as well as restrictions on how far the project could be from the street.
“Parking is the No. 1 complaint that my office handles in the 1st District,” Lowenthal said.
Other council members disagreed. “I think that deed restrictions are overkill,” said Councilwoman Tonia Reyes Uranga of the 7th District. Reyes Uranga finally made a motion to approve the item as it was introduced.
At one point, Mo Tidemanis, director of real estate for CSULB, explained that the university already had in place plans to restrict the properties so that six months after a person leaves, the unit must be sold back to the school or to another faculty or staff member.
After the meeting, Suja Lowenthal said she wanted more restrictions on parking and to encourage the use of mass transit. Both Lowenthals expressed their support for the project.
The P-T building was sold to October Five last year. The newspaper was relocated to downtown’s Arco Center.
KY&L Corporate & Real Estate Team