Long Beach officials have been invited to apply for a federal grant to help pay for a parking structure at the planned Queensway Bay tourist mecca.
The city was formally asked to compete for a $6-million Economic Development Administration grant on same day last week that President Clinton visited the city's waterfront to bestow praise on the San Pedro Bay ports.
"You do not get this invitation unless you're highly considered for approval," said Randal Hernandez, chief of staff to Mayor Beverly O'Neill.
The money would help pay for a $12-million parking structure to serve visitors of the Queensway Bay development, a planned shopping and entertainment site to be anchored by a $100-million aquarium.
If the grant is approved, the city will pay the other $6 million required to build the 1,200-space parking structure, with money from an already-approved aquarium bond and a new parking bond, city officials said.
The Clinton administration has already chipped in $40 million toward the waterfront development in the form of a Housing and Urban Development loan, which will pay for landscape work, lighting and a pedestrian walkway.
To repay the loan, the city will need to take in some of the revenue from the parking structure, so it is considered a crucial piece of the development puzzle. Construction is slated to begin in April.
The Queensway Bay project covers a 310-acre area on the waterfront, including land that was home to another of the city's former tourist draws, the Pike amusement park, which closed in 1979. The new development is envisioned as a cosmopolitan retail zone.
Over the years, the city has struggled to find a use for the land and lost a number of deals that would have brought high-rise apartments or condominiums to the area.