LONG BEACH — After months of survey and reflection, developers of the old Pike amusement park site have decided to build in stages a massive high-rise office, residential and shopping center, rather than the low-slung seaside village they had first envisioned.
As now conceived, the $750-million, 3-million-square-foot development would be the largest and most costly ever built in Long Beach--one-fourth larger than the four-tower World Trade Center being constructed nearby and approaching the size of the nation's biggest renewal projects.
A preliminary design of the oceanfront development--expanded from 10 to 13.8 acres by agreement with the developer of adjacent land--is scheduled for presentation to the city Redevelopment Agency board in October, said Paul W. Stern, Pike project manager.
Last fall, after buying most of the Pike site, developers James Rouse and Wayne Ratkovich said they hoped to incorporate into their Long Beach plans the colorful shopping and entertainment elements of Rouse's "festival marketplaces," which have revived waterfronts elsewhere.
But Stern said last week that construction of a tourist-oriented marketplace would have duplicated existing activities at Shoreline Village and new ones planned by operators of the Queen Mary attraction.
"We've pretty certainly determined that festival retail is not suitable" for the Pike site, which is south of Ocean Boulevard between Pine and Magnolia avenues, Stern said in an interview. What is needed, he said, is "a more serious, more traditional urban development that's responsive to the organic needs of the city."
Instead of a lively central plaza with perhaps 250,000 square feet of shops surrounded by hundreds of low-rise apartments, the Pike plan now calls for a shopping promenade and several high-rise office and residential towers, though the precise number and configuration have not been determined, Stern said.
"We just are not at the point yet where we know what it will look like," Stern said. Even when formally presented to city officials this fall, the plan "will still be in a very fluid state." And construction may not begin until spring, 1989, he said.
However, out of an unusual two-day brainstorming session with city officials, architects, urban planners and academics in January, a broad-brush plan for phased construction during the next 10 to 15 years has been developed.
It calls for about 1,250 apartments or condominiums with 1 million square feet of space, possibly in towers of 25 to 30 stories, and 1 million square feet of office space designed in part to lure large corporate clients, Stern said.
The final 1 million square feet would house a 400-room hotel, which would be constructed after the city's current hotel-room glut passes, along with at least 200,000 square feet of retail stores on a dining-and-shopping promenade stretching the three-block width of the site.
The promenade, a resurrection of the Pike's old "walk of a thousand lights," would function like the Embarcadero in San Francisco, linking the Convention Center on the east with the World Trade Center on the west, Stern said.
But, unlike a strictly tourist destination, the promenade would be lined with the kind of specialty stores that can be found in a trendy shopping mall. And it could possibly include a smaller version of a high-end department store such as I. Magnin, he said.
The remaining 400,000 square feet would be built in response to future market demand, Stern said.
The project would increase by 50% the first-class office space downtown and would account for nearly one-fifth of all new residences planned for the 421-acre downtown redevelopment zone.
As now planned, the project would put more building space on less land than any other downtown project. And some city officials familiar with the Pike plan say they will be asking hard questions about how local roads and sewers would handle such development.
Councilman Evan Anderson Braude, who represents the downtown area, said he is excited about the project but is certain that freeway access will have to be improved to accommodate it.
"We in Long Beach are not used to that kind of density. The numbers are startling," said Planning Commission chairwoman Nancy Latimer. But she said the numbers could make sense, considering the project's lengthy construction timetable.
Stern said that at 3 million square feet on 13-plus acres, the Pike's ratio of floor space to each square foot of land is only 5.3-to-1. Los Angeles' downtown redevelopment area allows 13-to-1, with 6-to-1 in the rest of that city.
"This is not very dense urban development. It is not in any sense . . . overloading the site," Stern said.
Downtown Los Angeles' California Plaza on Bunker Hill, the nation's largest urban renewal project, calls for about 4 million square feet of space on 11.2 acres.