Downtown Long Beach
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Downtown Waterfront Study



Downtown waterfront is home to tourist attractions like the Aquarium of the Pacific, Performing Arts Center and Rainbow Harbor, as well as world-class events like the Long Beach Grand Prix, Pride Festival, and Marathon. The area also includes office towers, residential high rises, hotels and major shopping destinations. However, these uses and attractions sit within a half square mile area that is difficult or unpleasant for pedestrians to navigate due to wide streets, narrow and missing sidewalks and lack of pedestrian oriented buildings. Identified as a goal in our 2013 Strategic Plan Update, improving the connection between Downtown neighborhoods and the Waterfront and ensuring new development fits with the vision for the larger Downtown region is crucial to realizing the potential of the waterfront area.

A report released last month by the Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis at George Washington University School of Business ranked the top 30 metropolitan areas based on the amount of commercial development in walkable urban places and found the top ranking metros have an average of 38% higher GDP per capita as compared to the low ranking metros. Having recently engaged our stakeholders in the process to adopt the Downtown Plan and Housing Element the DLBA believes now is the time to begin addressing the lack of pedestrian connectivity within the Downtown Long Beach waterfront area, as well as between the waterfront and other downtown neighborhoods. 

ULI Technical Assistance Panel
On July 31 and August 1,2014 the DLBA sponsored a Urban Land Institute (ULI) Technical Assistance Panel (TAP) to study Downtown Long Beach’s waterfront area. Recognizing the need to create stronger pedestrian connectivity within Downtown’s waterfront, as well as between the waterfront and other downtown neighborhoods, the DLBA enlisted the expertise of a ULI TAP to explore and develop recommendations to improve pedestrian activity in the area. The TAP presented their initial findings at a presentation held at the Aquarium of the Pacific on Friday August 1. 

The DLBA and ULI released the Technical Assistance Panel Report in October 2014. The report findings included short- and long-term recommendations focused around creating a great place beloved by residents that, in turn, attracts visitors. Recommendations include: 

  • Extending the urban fabric of Downtown’s historic neighborhoods towards the waterfront 

  • Reconfiguring Marina Green Park into a true waterfront park with active uses to attract residents

  • Creating a governance structure that can address a long term vision for the waterfront area

  • Activation of the vacant lot on the southeast corner of Ocean Blvd. and Pine Ave

  • Clever pedestrian wayfinding to create a seamless user experience

  • Adding pop-up plazas and vendors along Pine Ave south of Ocean to help connect the Downtown core to the Waterfront attractions. 

The full report can be downloaded here.

The DLBA and ULI thank the Aquarium of the Pacific for hosting the "Connecting Downtown to the Waterfront" presentation.

Watch the TAP Presentation

Click here to download a PDF of the presentation.

DLBA Waterfront Task Force
While progress has been made on some of the recommendations outlined in the ULI TAP report there is a need and opportunity to further advance efforts to improve pedestrian connectivity within the waterfront area. DLBA's Waterfront Task Force is currently reviewing ULI's recommendations and is developing an organizational implementation plan that identifies project priorities, potential partners, actions, and timelines. The Task Force is scheduled to release its Waterfront Connectivity Action Plan in the Fall of 2016.

About the Urban Land Institute
The Urban Land Institute (ULI) is a nonprofit research and education organization that facilitates an open exchange of ideas, information, and experience among industry leaders and policy makers dedicated to creating better places. Public agencies, private firms, and nonprofit organizations request Technical Assistance Panel (TAP) services on a specific issue to get expert and objective advice. ULI convenes a panel of ULI members with expertise and knowledge in the subject areas being addressed. A link to the ULI's webpage can be found here

Connecting the Waterfront
ULI TAP Information

Click here to download a PDF of the ULI Technical Assistance Panel Report.

Click here to download a PDF of the slide show presented by ULI on August 1, 2014.