Long Beach officials are exploring a sale of the city hall property and the neighboring Stop & Shop complex to developers to create a new central downtown.
Developers met with Acting City Manager Rob Agostisi last week to discuss potential development options that could bring curbside mixed-use apartments and retail to Park Avenue. City officials said any potential development would have to incorporate a new city hall and police and fire departments.
A sale is not expected this year and any sale of city property would require four of five city council votes. Councilmembers have been apprised of discussions, Agostisi said. There are three city council seats up for election in November.
City Council President Anissa Moore said she was waiting for additional information.
“We want to foster a new and vibrant downtown through smart and measured development at a great savings to taxpayers,” Agostisi said. “This was about getting the stakeholders in the room and paving the way for future development, regardless of the administration.”
The city owns the 7-acre Stop and Shop complex property and city hall’s Kennedy Plaza, which is separated by the LIRR and bus station on the north side of Park Avenue. The vast parking lots off Park Avenue could be moved behind the development or underground, Agostisi said.
The city signed a 99-year lease in 1983 with the former Waldbaum’s owner. Stop and Shop acquired Waldbaum’s in 2015 and continued paying the city’s lease. City officials said there are 63 years remaining on the lease, and Stop & Shop pays about $90,000 per year.
The shopping complex is owned by developer Arnold Gumowitz and Manhattan developer AAG Management, which is also in discussions with the city, Agostisi said. Gumowitz could not be reached for comment.
Stop & Shop representatives have not said what the project would mean for the future of its store, but issued a statement, “Stop & Shop will continue to serve the community of Long Beach.”
Long Beach officials have explored developing the two properties for several years centered around a transit-oriented downtown. The city included similar plans in a downtown revitalization bid for a $10 million state grant application in June, which was awarded this year to Baldwin.
The properties have not been appraised, but Agostisi said including the city hall property would be more attractive to developers and return both parcels of land to the city’s tax rolls. He said any project would include community input.
The city’s proposed comprehensive plan would also follow the city’s Complete Streets plan passed in 2013 to make the city more walkable and improve traffic and beautification efforts.
City officials hope the project can attract new affordable housing and business tenants to grow the city’s tax base. This year’s budget includes a nearly 20 percent commercial tax increase and a 7.9 percent residential tax hike.
“The city’s financial troubles are driven by costs and services provided and the inability to expand the tax base,” Agostisi said. “This project is a game changer.”
Lease on Stop & Shop complex:
- Signed in 1983
- 63 years remaining on lease
- Stop & Shop pays about $90,000 a year to city