Long Beach is a large port city located 20 miles south of downtown Los Angeles. Home to 470,000 residents, Long Beach has robust job centers in downtown area that support a strong local economy. Pine Avenue serves as the city’s main street, running north-south from downtown to the waterfront where the convention center is located. Parallel to Pine Avenue is an outdoor pedestrian mall called The Promenade. In a case study presented at the Mayors’ Institute in 1996, former Mayor O’Neill was seeking development strategies for The Promenade that would bolster commercial activities on main street, enhancing the pedestrian experience and attracting private investments.
Radical transformation of The Promenade in the years since makes the project one of MICD’s biggest success stories. With mixed-use, multi-family housing on both sides, The Promenade now leads up to the City Place Shopping Center and is served by a regional light rail, the Metro Blue Line. Distinctive architectural treatments and streetscaping reinforce a strong sense of place in downtown Long Beach. Reflecting on her experience at the Institute, Mayor O’Neill explained, “Quitting wasn’t an option. My project was the downtown area of our city and I came away inspired by the discussion that we had at MICD… I found so many things that were helpful to so many cities that we could replicate.” Former City Manager Gerald Miller added, “What happened downtown really was a catalyst for development activities throughout the entire city. You’re seeing greater energy and excitement throughout the community.”