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Historic Pacific Coast Club Gets Another Execution Stay Pending Coalition Report

November 05, 1987|ROXANA KOPETMAN | Times Staff Writer

LONG BEACH — The historic, castle-like Pacific Coast Club has won a temporary reprieve from its date with a wrecking ball, but the likelihood of it being saved remains doubtful.

Building owner Robert L. Bellevue had given local preservationists until Oct. 28 to come up with a way to save the Ocean Boulevard structure.

But he decided to waive the date: "I'm not going to do anything until I see what their plan is."

Next week, the Coalition for Historic Long Beach plans to give Bellevue a study suggesting that he convert the 61-year-old club to condominiums while preserving most of the structure.

Leon S. Sugarman, a San Francisco-based consultant the coalition hired for the study, said this week that his proposal calls for demolishing just part of the structure to build a tower for condominiums. But the portion torn down would be rebuilt to look as before, with the new base strong enough for a tower of at least 16 stories, said Sugarman, of Kaplan, McLaughlin & Diaz in San Francisco.

Bellevue said that he is eager to see the report and that he hopes Sugarman has devised a proposal "that makes economic sense."

But he also expressed doubt that a condominium project of 165 to 185 units, with no on-site parking, as Sugarman intends to propose, would work.

The City Council in May turned down Bellevue's proposal for a hotel/condominium project, which would partially have restored some of the existing structure. Residents of the neighboring Villa Riviera condominiums and others opposed that project because they said it would infringe on the public beach, block shoreline views and set a precedent that could lead to other beach development.

Bellevue then returned to the city with a proposal to raze the building and construct in its place a $40-million, 16-story, 187-unit condominium complex. The Planning Commission last month approved the building's demolition. But Bellevue agreed when preservationists asked whether they could hire their own consultant and look for another option.

"If they come up with something that makes economic sense, I'm all for it," Bellevue said.

Sugarman said he did not yet know how much his proposal would cost but expects to have the study completed by next week. Sugarman said he considered converting the club to a hotel of 220 to 240 rooms that would not change the character of the building. The condominium proposal is the more viable of the two options, he said.

Renee Simon, who heads the coalition's subcommittee on the Pacific Coast Club, said that Sugarman's study is the first "real analysis of what could be done to retain the building."

But Bellevue said he has exhausted the possibilities and neither he--nor the city--have been able to develop a proposal which would both save the building and be economically feasible.

The building, which opened in the 1920s, once catered to the city's elite. Outside, it resembles a castle. Inside, it has high oak-beamed ceilings, huge fireplaces and chandeliers. Now closed off, its only use is in the occasional filming of horror movies.

"They are filming Fright Night II, even as we speak," Bellevue said.

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