With an early June closing of escrow, it appears the long and winding odyssey of the City Hall East property has come to its public ownership conclusion — paving the way for a new apartment complex building, named The Edison, in 2015.
Ultimately, 100 LBB Real Estate, LLC bought City Hall East, which is located at 100 Long Beach Blvd., for $2.1 million. The City Council approved the pact on April 23 of this year. But City Council approval for that piece of property hasn’t necessarily made its purchase a reality, as past purchases since the first RFP request in 2005 have fallen through.
The 100 LBB Real Estate group is led by local developer Ratkovich Properties in conjunction with Los Angeles-based developer The Kor Group and Chicago-based management team Waterton Residential.
“It’s about creating an environment where people can come together, share a common bond and have the best urban life can give them,” Cliff Ratkovich said.
To that end, 100 LBB Real Estate will replace City Hall East’s office building with a boutique apartment and mixed-use complex.
“It seemed to me of any place in downtown Long Beach, that the East Village Arts District would be the best place to call home, if someone is looking at an urban environment with the best downtown has to offer,” Ratkovich said, regarding the property’s location.
The Edison will include 150 urban loft apartments, which will include studio units, single-bedroom units and two-bedroom units — average unit size will be 700 square feet, with open floor designs.
Ratkovich said the target renter would be a 25-45 young urban professional who wants to be close to public transportation and in the heart of the city. The 10-story building’s rooftop will be converted to a community space with a pool, lounge and spa area.
The developer group will be investing about $35 million into a massive rehab of the property. It will require significant seismic upgrades, demolition of the interior, new systems (mechanical, electrical, plumbing, elevator) and a replacement of the exterior skin with respect to the original 1959 design.
“We could see a demand emerging and this is a real gem of the downtown skyline,” Ratkovich said. “The trend is for smaller units, but very coolly designed.”
The city acquired City Hall East in 2000 from Southern California Edison as part of a franchise agreement to continue doing business with the electrical company. The building housed the headquarters and South Division of the Long Beach Police Department while the Public Safety Building was refurbished, but by May 2005, the city decided to sell the asset.
The first City Hall East RFP garnered two developers who were part of memorandums of understanding, but those expired. In 2007, the City Council approved an unsolicited offer for the property, but that plan failed in escrow. Then, in 2010, another RFP went out, with City Council giving the nod to Howard CDM with Lyon Apartment Communities — but that agreement was terminated by December 2011. A new RFP was sent out in January 2012, with the City Council approving Watt Investment Partners’ offer in July 2012 — again, the deal did not make it through escrow.
“Then we went to the second most eligible (from the 2012 RFP), which was Ratkovich, and they managed to close the sale,” said Mike Conway, director of business and property development for the city. “Since 2005, it’s been about seven years of effort to sell this property.
Before the economy collapsed from the recession around 2008, original proposals had come in between $4 and $5 million. In the new market, Conway said, the $2.1 million was fair, according to a recent study the city conducted.
“It is right in the downtown core, and increasing residential is very important to support all of the businesses downtown,” Conway said. “(Ratkovich) was very good to work with — a very astute developer. And he managed to bring the right team together to acquire this development.”