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What Price L.B. 'Redevelopment?'

November 19, 1987

It is apparent the powers that be in this town are hellbent on reducing Long Beach to a few frames in a museum and a spool or two of microfilm.

This was made alarmingly clear to me during a recent visit to the main library, where the sad, infuriating saga of the doomed Jergins Trust Building (100 East Ocean Blvd.) is tucked away in a file cabinet. The building, even in its present state of internal demolition (the new owners are looting the ornate penthouse and one-of-a-kind mosaic subway for artifacts to display in the new building) is one of the last shreds of evidence linking the City of Long Beach to an appreciation of beauty.

As the file shows, even after intense efforts by concerned citizens, fund-raising functions and demonstrations in front of the building, the powers that be chose not to act and the decision to demolish was made. After all, why keep a cumbersome old landmark when you could have a high-rise hotel go up in its place? Why renovate when there are so many multilevel parking structures waiting to be built downtown?

The scenario is a simple one: start the ball rolling by building a high-density office building. Then "solve" the resulting parking headache by demolishing the very essence of Long Beach. I think developers call this game "redevelopment."

It wouldn't surprise me in the least if there weren't plans to demolish--I'm sorry, "redevelop"--the Villa Riviera Apartments in the near future. After all, the building on Alamitos Avenue and Ocean Boulevard is probably the largest symbol of the unique charm of Long Beach. Nor would I be surprised if our city administrators changed the name of Long Beach to "Irvine-by-the-Sea" saying it was integral to our current redevelopment.

The Jergins Trust Building is a fitting example of the slow death Long Beach is suffering at the hands of developers and their well-dressed sycophants at City Hall.

If we don't act soon, the only place to see the charm of Long Beach will be library archives and antique stores.

NICK SANTANGELO

Long Beach

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