LONG BEACH — McDonnell Douglas Corp. has proposed two office towers, one of them 12 stories tall, about a block away from a 77-foot-tall Douglas Aircraft Co. building now under construction whose height prompted a lawsuit by residents of Lakewood Country Club Estates.
City officials said they anticipate some concern among nearby residents because the two towers would be the only high-rise office buildings in that area of Long Beach, and are not in keeping with the city's general plan which was designed to limit office towers largely to downtown.
Dennis Eschen, city zoning officer, said he is concerned about the visual impact, but believes that the buildings will be less imposing than the manufacturing building taking shape on Carson Street, which residents attempted to stop with a lawsuit last year. The tallest of the new buildings would be about twice as tall as the one that prompted the lawsuit.
"The manufacturing building is right across from homes and is right on Carson, while this office building is in the next block away from the homes, and is set several hundred feet back from Carson," Eschen said.
However, he said, "It would tend to change the residential character of the neighborhood, and that's why we have a general plan that determines where a high-rise can go."
So far, Mayor Ernie Kell said, residents have not complained about the proposal, which includes the 12-story tower, an eight-story tower, and a one-story restaurant to be built on the southeast corner of Carson Street and Lakewood Boulevard.
Kell said the city has sent a mailer to residents in the Lakewood Village area explaining the plan and inviting them to a public hearing on the issue. The hearing will be held at 7 p.m. April 30 at Mark Twain Elementary School, 5021 Centralia St.
Officials of McDonnell Douglas Realty Co. would need City Council approval to rezone the nine-acre parcel, which the company is buying from Long Beach City College for $8.2 million.
The site is now occupied by tennis courts, the LBCC baseball diamond and a parking lot, and is zoned only for institutional uses such as a school or church, Eschen said. It is across the street from some businesses, shops and an X-rated movie theater.
C.W. Goltermann, McDonnell Douglas Realty's project manager for the proposed complex, said he does not believe the development will adversely affect the neighborhood.
"We are facing a commercial district, not homes, and we have worked with the city's planning department for almost a year on the details," Goltermann said. "This will be an attractive office project, not a manufacturing building, and it will be heavily landscaped."
Keith Takahashi, a Douglas spokesman, said the towers could be occupied by early 1989, and will house Douglas workers who now work in cramped conditions at the headquarters site. It also will be home to a fresh round of workers being hired to help build the new wide-body MD-11 passenger jet and C-17 military transport planes for the Air Force.
"We're just bursting at the seams over here, and we're still hiring," Takahashi said.
Charles Greenburg, the attorney who represented about 300 homeowners in a 1986 lawsuit over the 77-foot-tall manufacturing building opposed by nearby Lakewood Country Club Estates residents, said he has not been contacted by any of those homeowners concerning the new proposal.
That lawsuit resulted in a settlement which requires Douglas to pay for trees or other camouflage in the back yards of homes on Carson Street in order to mask the large manufacturing building from view, Greenburg said. In addition, the company agreed not to build any other structures taller than 45 feet directly across from the homes.
"I haven't taken the plan, looked at the details, gone out there and walked around to see what the real impact would be, so I really cannot comment," Greenburg said of the new office tower proposal. However, he said the plan does not appear to conflict with the settlement accepted by his clients.
Takahashi, of Douglas, said the company has no plans to build other high-rise buildings in the area, "and apparently this is a one-shot kind of project."
He said Douglas officials "have tested the waters through the mayor of Long Beach's office, and there doesn't seem to be the opposition that was generated on the last one."