I feel I need to start this out by giving my rationale as to why I think this is huge for Downtown Long Beach. About ten years ago I attended an event put on by the Downtown Long Beach Associates, DLBA, featuring a famed speaker with expertise in envisioning urban living and trends in housing. This speaker was excellent and insightful. I don't remember his name, but his message has always stuck with me. He spoke about how Long Beach is on the verge of doing great things and has so many attributes and advantages that most cities could only dream of. The speaker went on to say that if we are going to make the turn, there were a few items to focus on. First, we needed to revitalize our Downtown by increasing the density to a critical mass to support the amenities that modern day people require to live in a downtown. We also need to highlight our connection to the Ocean and our Beaches, and lastly, we need to tie into our thriving University.
The first two seemed obvious, but I always considered CSULB, my alma mater, to be something that was on the other side of town. He made a point that it was necessary to bring in higher education to create a cultural environment and an educated workforce required for a thriving city. He pointed out that many who attend the university (like me) will stay in town and contribute to the community. He brought up that it was not just students, but the faculty and other employees attached to the university would benefit the community. Plus there seems to be an intangible vibe that goes with the university crowd. It just resonated with me what a game changer it would be to see the university tied to Downtown Long Beach. Would West Los Angeles be what it is today without UCLA? Look at what USC has done for its surrounding area. I might be a little biased, but don't underestimate what CSULB will do for Downtown Long Beach.
So now you can see why I am so excited to see reporting that next year there will be 16 new classrooms with about 400 seats coming to Downtown Long Beach. The classes are part of a 10-year agreement with the university's foundation in the old "City Place" location by The Promenade now cleverly rebranded as "The Streets."
This is huge. Please remember that there is going to be a 22 story tower with housing for 800 students plus 50 units for university housing. I predict this will push us into an entirely new and improved paradigm. My hats off to Mayor Robert Garcia, Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez, and CSULB President Jane Close Conoly for their part in making this major transformative step.
Here are some articles to learn more:
Long Beach Post
The Architects Newspaper