In 2005, the City of Long Beach determined its 1970's vintage city hall building had serious seismic deficiencies conditions and that it needed to be seismically renovated or replaced entirely. The City sought private sector assistance through an innovative P3 approach that allowed private sector entrepreneurial creativity to find solutions that cost no more that the City's current costs to occupy the old City Hall, the old Main Library and the old Lincoln Park. The City's approach required the private sector offers to include highly effective design solutions, monetization of excess City assets through private development rights, economies resulting from including a new headquarters building for the Harbor department and a thorough understanding of the City and Harbor department financial situations.
Edgemoor assembled a world-class team of designers, master planners, engineers, builders, facility managers and financiers who collaborated extensively to solve this challenge by developing an approach that met the City's cost constraints while providing all of the required program elements in an elegant yet straightforward master plan and design. Monetization of excess City-owned assets by creating private development opportunities provided immediate capital to off-set the new Civic Center costs. The six city-block master plan will enhance a section of the central business district and provide additional economic benefits to the city through increased tax revenue. Designed to be ultra-energy efficient, the new facilities will have substantially lower operating costs and will meet City objectives for sustainable development. A low cost financing structure capitalizing on the City's good credit and current market appetite for infrastructure investments was the final ingredient that allowed our team to solve the financial challenge presented by the City in its solicitation for private partners.
Municipal leaders are constantly challenged by budget constraints and funding for administrative needs will always be second in priority to funding core public services like police, fire, or fixing pot holes. Therefore, voting to create a new city hall is a significant political challenge for the elected officials of the City of Long Beach. While the City had long envisioned building a new city hall, 10 years passed before the City leaders were able to take tangible steps toward procuring a new Civic Center without impacting City residents and businesses with higher taxes. And though the P3 value proposition was compelling, many skeptics and community members did not see or understand the need for a new Civic Center, or thought that there may be other more cost effective options and they were readying themselves for a campaign to stop the proposed new Civic Center. Thus the City leaders faced a considerable challenge that had to be resolved before the project was brought forward for approval at public hearings.
Public engagement for this project includes nine city districts, each with a voting council member, and dozens of interest groups as well as individual residents with concerns was needed to gain community support for the project. After being selected as the City's development partner, Edgemoor spearheaded a community outreach process that involved over 120 stakeholder meetings. The outreach effort helped elected officials and citizens to understand the value proposition that would allow a development of a new Civic Center for no increase in cost to the tax payers of the City. Edgemoor engaged with over 4,000 residents, genuinely soliciting their feedback and incorporating community needs into the project. After a busy year of public engagement, the community overwhelmingly supported the project and that allowed the elected officials to be comfortable in providing unanimous approvals of the project at the planning commission and City Council public meetings.
With close to 500,000 citizens and only one city Hall, Long Beach could not afford to have any disruptions to its active and on-going city services, including City Council, Planning Commission, and Harbor Commission public meetings, and the public services provided by its Main Library. The old City Hall Building and the old Main Library and their associated parking facilities, occupy three of the five available blocks in the Civic Center redevelopment area. Additionally, existing City debt encumbered the old City Hall building and covenants prohibited vacating City Hall before repayment of the debt. Not only must the new civic center master plan be devised to meet all the City, Library, Park, and Harbor Commission program requirements, it must be developed in a manner to have minimal impact on City and Library operations. The Edgemoor team was challenged to master plan and sequence the work without impacting City or Library services.
Leading the design and construction team during the procurement and conceptual design phase of the project, Edgemoor developed a master plan with a phased development approach that allowed the city operations and library services to continue in the existing facilities without any negative impact until the new facilities are completed and occupied. Once the old city Hall and Library are vacated, and demolished, the private development is free to start on the center blocks. Coordinating the new work and select demolition of existing facilities, retrofitting of others, and protecting the remaining structures to ensure continuous operations while re-developing the site required extensive investigations and analysis of structures built over 40 years ago. During the procurement process before the contract for services was signed, the development team vetted their approach with detailed investigations and studies of the old facilities. The effort ensured that the critical facilities could remain in operations and allowed for a better understanding of the risked associated with the redevelopment of such a large section of downtown Long Beach.
“The P3 method was selected because it enabled the City to procure a new Civic Center without any bond issues, tax measures or voter approvals, and included over 100 outreach sessions. This method also facilitated design and operational innovation from the P3 developers; provided a high level of 40-year life cycle maintenance for the new Civic Center; and integrated significantly increased private real estate development of the downtown area through the City’s contribution of land.”
Edgemoor is a leading vertically-integrated developer and asset manager of buildings and infrastructure and offers tailored comprehensive development solutions to a broad range of clients.