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Long Beach considers record high apartment towers

A Manhattan developer pitched a proposal to turn

A Manhattan developer 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. Credit: Handout

Long Beach's zoning board of appeals is scheduled to vote Thursday on a Manhattan developer's plan to turn a vacant 6-acre site into two 15-story luxury apartment towers.

Developer iStar has asked for a variance to develop the Superblock, a parcel near the oceanfront boardwalk that has been a target of city revitalization efforts since the 1970s.

The project, which would be located between Riverside and Long Beach boulevards, would include 522 units and 11,000 square feet of commercial space.

The 160-foot towers are taller and denser than present zoning allows, so iStar last month asked the city zoning board of appeals for a variance. IStar already had approval to build two 110-foot towers with 425 units on the property.

If built at 160 feet, the towers would be Long Beach's tallest buildings, iStar officials have said.

"Everyone is hopeful that this will pass," iStar spokesman Don Middleberg said.

Residents and business owners voiced support and skepticism about the project at a January public hearing. Long Beach Chamber of Commerce vice president Mark Tannenbaum said the chamber believes the project will help reinvigorate the area around the boardwalk.

"It adds to the value of the boardwalk," he said. "It makes the boardwalk more usable."

Ed Gudaitis, a Long Beach resident, said he believes the project is too big.

"You need some space, every square inch is taken up," he said. "We need some breathing room."

The Superblock was originally 13 separate lots with various owners. The city council unanimously voted last month to settle lawsuits with iStar and the property's former lead developer, Philip Pilevsky, that had stalled development of the property.

Attempts to contact members of the zoning board were not successful.

Other city leaders, who have voiced support for the project, declined to discuss the merits of the development before the zoning board votes. Council member Anthony Eramo said the parcel needs to be developed, but declined to comment on the iStar proposal.

"We need the tax base, and it'll obviously benefit all the small businesses in town, which I know are hurting," he said.


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