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Long Beach : Judge Won't Block Project

February 13, 1986

A Superior Court judge has refused to block construction of a $130-million Sheraton hotel and office complex across from the Convention Center, and ground breaking for the 500-room hotel and 24-story office tower has been scheduled for May 5.

"We don't believe at this point that there will be difficulty with the project proceeding," said David Biggs, project manager for the Long Beach Redevelopment Agency.

However, Biggs said, the city expects an appeal of the Superior Court decision, and a separate bankruptcy hearing that might delay the project was continued last week to Feb. 25.

The challenge to the Sheraton project in both Superior and bankruptcy courts has been mounted by Long Beach developer Craig Caldwell.

Caldwell argued in Superior Court that his own proposal for a hotel and office tower should have received preferential consideration by city officials because he owns about one-third of the 3.3-acre site. The city chose a development team that is headed by Newport Beach businessman Stanley Cohen and includes Taisei Corp., a giant Japanese engineering and construction company.

Caldwell also argued unsuccessfully that the project should be stopped because city studies of the Cohen project underestimated parking needs and the traffic it would generate. Biggs said he did not think an appeal of that decision would delay construction.

The issue in bankruptcy court is how much the city will have to pay for the Caldwell lots, Biggs said. The city has offered $2.3 million, but Caldwell is asking about $7.5 million.

If that judgment favors the city and if Caldwell appeals, transfer of ownership of the contested property might be delayed, Biggs said. But Cohen said he would begin work without title because the city's ability to eventually get it seems certain.

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