A Manhattan developer on Thursday pitched a proposal to turn one of Long Beach's long-vacant parcels into the city's tallest buildings.
The 6-acre site, known locally as the Superblock, has been a target of city revitalization efforts since the 1970s, and developer iStar wants to turn it into two 15-story luxury apartment towers.
The project, to be located between Riverside Boulevard and Long Beach Boulevard, would include 522 units and 11,000 square feet of commercial space. But the 160-foot development is taller and denser than present zoning allows, so iStar Thursday asked the city zoning board of appeals for a variance.
The towers -- which would eclipse the White Sands resort and Avalon apartments as Long Beach's tallest -- would become the new jewel of the city's oceanfront, the developer said Thursday.
"It brings life to a block that's been dead for 30 years," iStar executive vice president Karl Frey said.
The zoning board was not scheduled to vote on the proposal Thursday. Its next meeting is scheduled for Feb. 27.
Residents at the meeting had mixed opinions about the towers. The project could provide vital tax dollars to Long Beach, but the retail component could be bigger, Rich Boodman said.
"Without retail space, the project won't attract people to come to Long Beach, take a good look at our boardwalk, and say 'I want to live here'," he said.
City officials, including city council members and City Manager Jack Schnirman, have touted iStar's proposal as a good use of a piece of land that has sat vacant for decades.
Litigation had played a role in stalling efforts to build on the Superblock, which was originally 13 separate lots with various owners. The city council unanimously voted on Wednesday to settle its lawsuits with iStar and the property's former lead developer, Philip Pilevsky.
Long Beach transferred the Superblock to Pilevsky in 2006. He intended to build two shorter towers on the property, but defaulted on a mortgage. The Superblock then became iStar's property, and the city sued Pilevsky and iStar in 2011. Those suits are now settled, city officials said Wednesday.
iStar pitched the development to the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce -- whose executive vice president has endorsed the project -- on Wednesday.
Long Island's real estate community is excited about the possibility of the towers rising, said Wendy Sanders, a Great Neck-based real estate broker.
"It is going to be one of the tallest buildings that we have," Sanders said. "And based on location it's going to have the most magnificent ocean views."