New Shopping Center Near Airport to Include Whole Foods, Nordstrom Rack

Sean Belk

An airport-themed shopping center to be built on a 26.6-acre site once used for aircraft manufacturing near Long Beach Airport will be anchored by a Nordstrom Rack, a Whole Foods and other undisclosed national retail tenants, the project’s developer recently announced.

To be called The Long Beach Exchange (or LBX), the shopping center will be constructed at the corner of Lakewood Boulevard and Carson Street on a site that has sat vacant for years after aircraft manufacturing operations shuttered. In addition to major retailers, the shopping center will include various dining and fitness offerings, according to a statement released Jan. 5 by Newport Beach-based developer Burnham USA Equities, Inc.

Burnham officials announced that Nordstrom Rack, which is relocating from the Lakewood Center mall to a 28,000 square-foot store, and Whole Foods 365 are the first major tenants to sign leases for the new shopping center, expected to open spring 2018.

In an email to the Beachcomber, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia applauded the announcement of the upcoming additions to Douglas Park, a business district that has flourished with industrial, office, hotel and retail development projects in recent years after the property had been historically used by Boeing and McDonnell Douglas for aircraft manufacturing purposes.

“I am delighted that Nordstrom Rack and Whole Foods 365 are among the first tenants signed to the new Long Beach Exchange development at Douglas Park,” he said. “These stores and the other new arrivals bring great new retail and dining options to East Long Beach.”

The Long Beach Planning Commission at its meeting on Oct. 6 approved a site plan review, tentative tract map, three conditional use permits (CUPs), two standard variances and a master sign program for the construction and operation of the retail project, expected to break ground in coming months.

According to Burnham officials, the new shopping center will feature more than two acres of open space, representing nearly 250 percent more open space than required by development standards. The developer has designed areas that will “invite visitors to relax, engage in activities and explore the unique features of LBX,” Burnham officials said.

In addition, the shopping center will include an “innovative and artful signage and wayfinding program” that will honor the site’s aeronautical legacy and is being designed by Selbert Perkins Design, a design firm responsible for the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) Gateway glass pylon project, according to Burnham officials.

The new shopping center will feature three distinct shopping zones, expected to “work seamlessly together to create a singular experience for locals and visitors alike,” Burnham officials said. These include: “McGowen’s Approach,” “The Landing,” and “The Hangar @LBX.”

Guests will first be greeted by McGowen’s Approach, an area expected to create a “Main Street” feel with a “dynamic urban street-themed corridor,” featuring a pedestrian promenade, distinctive architecture, native landscaping and trees.

Next, visitors will be opened up into The Landing, a grand-scaled 1.25-acre central plaza that will include drought-tolerant vegetation, a reflective water feature and commemorative art and historical timeline installations that commemorate the site’s rich aeronautical history.

The space will then open up into The Hangar @LBX, a 16,800-square-foot structure designed to replicate a weathered airplane hangar but with a “modern twist,” hosting “an evolving, curated collection of local purveyors of art, food, design, fashion and other unique goods and services,” Burnham officials said.

“With Long Beach Exchange, as with all of our endeavors, our mission is to create community through thoughtful and sustainable property development,” said Burnham USA Equities, Inc. CEO and Founder Scott Burnham in a statement. “Our collaboration with the city’s planning department and the community at large has enlightened our approach for LBX, which will pay homage to the aviation history of the area and shall be an engaging and exceptional place for guests to shop, dine, stroll and relax.”

According to a city staff report, the project will include a total of six anchor tenant spaces ranging in size from 18,000 to 40,000 square feet. The development is expected to have a total of 1,345 parking stalls, along with bicycle racks, electric vehicle charging stations and carpool parking.

In an email to the Beachcomber, Stephen Thorp, executive vice president of Burnham USA Equities, Inc., said the project is not limited to a specific customer base as he expects the shopping center to draw customers from throughout the region.

“We create environments for people to gather, dine, shop, etc.,” Thorp said. “Given the unique nature of LBX and more specifically The Hangar, we expect to have visitors from all over Southern California.”

He added that the outlook for the retail market and the Long Beach economy is “very positive.”

“The City of Long Beach is on everybody’s radar as it has so much to offer,” Thorp said. “The City of Long Beach has many unique facets that create a harmonious melting pot for art, culture, food, music and more. You can feel the energy of the city along with all of its surrounding communities. We are excited to be a part of such a dynamic city.”

Meanwhile, the future of the vacant former Boeing C-17 manufacturing plant, which officially closed in November 2015, remains uncertain. Boeing representatives and city officials continue to collaborate on plans for the possible sale and development of nearly 130 acres of property, including large aircraft manufacturing hangars, while environmental analysis of the site remains ongoing.



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