How does a city with over half a million people take on the task of developing an isolated shopping center located in the heart of its downtown?

This was the central question and conversation that took place at a symposium entitled “The Evolving Downtown and City Place,” hosted by the American Institute of Architect’s South Bay/Long Beach Chapter.

As DTLB shifts through its current renaissance—dealing with everything from an increasing population to a development boom that includes everything from restaurants to new residences—the need for one of DTLB’s largest retail properties, City Place, to shift its own image became more pertinent. That’s why mid-last year, the owner of City Place, Tony Shooshani, joined civic leaders in announcing a massive renovation and rebranding of the

The four-year, three-phase project met what could be perceived as both a hurdle and a blessing: Walmart, its largest tenant, announced it would be vacating City Place. Maligned by the public but also a large contributor to the economy of DTLB, the vacancy Walmart leaves widens the discussion of City Place’s future—and will also be part of the discussion to be had at this symposium. After all, we’re talking about six blocks of retail and space, ushering in what could be a game-changer for DTLB.

Heading the discussion was Mayor Robert Garcia, 1st District Councilmember Lena Gonzalez, our very own Kraig Kojian, City Place owner Tony Shooshani, and Studio One Eleven principal Michael Bohn.

While no direct hints were given as to what would replace the Walmart, Studio One Eleven was able to show off new renderings of its proposed design—including a multi-level layout for their new offices where the Nordstrom used to be—and the possibilities of catering to an evolving Downtown population that is more educated, more wealthy, and more in need of higher quality services and amenities.

“There’s no question about it: our Downtown is going to be one of the nation’s leading urban spaces,” Garcia said.