Downtown Huntington Beach, wrapped by Palm and Ocean avenues and Golden West and 1st streets, is the heart of this surf-loving city. The majority of businesses lining Main Street--purveyors of wet suits, surfboards, leashes and wax--serve the young and not-so-young surfers who have come here for decades to catch classic waves off Huntington Pier. Sandwich shops and modest ethnic restaurants serve baggie-clad customers--in sharp contrast to the slick bistros that have sprung up in ocean-side communities just up the coast. Sure, surfing and the low-key life style it inspires are still king here, but change is coming to this slightly seedy, entirely original neighborhood.
Change of a sweeping nature is about to take place as a $200-million to $300-million redevelopment plan kicks into high gear. In the next 3 years, the face of this unassuming neighborhood will become virtually unrecognizable as scores of new shops and residences emerge from the residue of old brick and plaster. Within the next 30 days, ground will be broken on Pier Colony, a 100,000-square-foot extravaganza made up of restaurants, retail shops, places of entertainment and residences. Work on an 850-car parking garage is also due about the same time.
In March, construction will begin on the Waterfront Project, a conglomeration of four hotels and 800 residential units to be phased in over a 15-year period. The upcoming flurry of construction is all in addition to the 1,200 new condo, townhouse and single-family home units just completed and the 500 to 700 units already under construction. Even Huntington Beach's venerable but derelict old pier will be transformed in the months ahead. It will be torn down and replaced at a cost of $10 million before reopening this summer.