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Imagineers Want Study of Monorail Feasibility

December 18, 1988|CHRIS WOODYARD | Times Staff Writer

LONG BEACH — Six major developers apparently think the concept would be a hit--a sleek monorail whooshing along Ocean Boulevard and across a bay to the Queen Mary.

But the developers, who gathered last week to talk about the proposal, have decided they are not yet ready to jump aboard.

They say they need to know more before they open their checkbooks. They decided to commission a 3-month study into the technological feasibility, projected ridership and cost of a downtown monorail loop.

"I am personally just as enthusiastic about the future of the monorail in Long Beach as I've ever been," said Robert Young, president of McDonnell Douglas Realty Co. "There are others who do not match my enthusiasm or imagination on the project. . . . With any new idea, you're going to have skeptics, cynics and doubters."

McDonnell Douglas and Walt Disney Co.'s real estate division proposed the idea of a privately financed monorail loop that would connect the Convention Center, major hotels and office towers along Ocean Boulevard.

The line would swoop over the mouth of the Los Angeles River to Disney's Queen Mary and Spruce Goose attractions, making it an appealing way of linking the Queen Mary with a 17-acre parcel that Disney is considering for development of a major resort hotel next to the Convention Center.

McDonnell Douglas real estate officials envision the monorail as a way of connecting its planned 35-story office building at Ocean Boulevard and Golden Shore with the new Los Angeles-to-Long Beach light-rail line.

Young said the study would have to determine the projected cost, but he has said previously that systems of its type generally cost $7 million to $9 million a mile.

Because the monorail would have dual objectives--movement along Ocean Boulevard and across the water--two different transit systems might be required, said Paul W. Stern, executive vice president of the Ratkovich Co., which is a co-developer of a massive project on the site the old Pike amusement park.

He said he was buoyed by the meeting Wednesday. "I think it's a wonderful start." Stern said.

Stanley Cohen, the Newport Beach developer of Shoreline Square in downtown Long Beach, said he will await the outcome of the study. "There are obviously some questions that need to be answered," he said.

Young said the technological feasibility study will be conducted by Transportation Group Inc. of Orlando, Fla., the subsidiary of a maker of transit vehicles. Other firms, yet to be determined, will conduct financial and marketing studies, he added.

Even though other developers are not yet ready to charge forward with the project, Young said he is not discouraged.

"There are six developers all with huge egos--I'm including myself--all with personal ideas about development. You would expect some divergence of opinion," he said.

Also participating in the meeting were representatives of IDM Corp., developers of the World Trade Center on Ocean Boulevard, and Cushman Investment and Development Corp., which plans to build the Landmark Square office tower across the street from City Hall.

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