High-End Investments Create New Synergy Around Long Beach Convention Center
From Long Beach's first luxury, boutique hotel to a high-end steakhouse and more, the area around the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center is experiencing a surge of investment, spurring new synergies and possibilities.
At a recent, mid-summer gathering on the Terrace Theater Plaza, amidst the music and fashion of the Roaring ’20s, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia called for the unfurling of a banner announcing that luxury brand Fairmont Hotels & Resorts would run the city’s historic Breakers Hotel under its new name: Fairmont The Breakers, Long Beach.
Garcia said it was “a very special moment for the city,” because the Breakers, which he called “one of the most beautiful buildings in the entire city” since opening in 1926, has sat unused and unoccupied since 2015.
The announcement also marked another step in the quickening pace currently remaking the look and feel of Downtown Long Beach, steps that include two upscale restaurants – Solita and Ruth’s Chris Steak House – as well as luxury apartment building, Ocean Center.
The additions are not only distinguished by time, but space, in that all four properties are within a block of each other, creating what Todd Lemmis, a partner in the Pacific6 investment firm that developed both The Breakers and Ocean Center luxury apartments, said will be a “really cool, upscale-but-approachable and accessible place to meet, dine, play and hang.”
Pacific6 purchased The Breakers building in 2017 and is spending $150 million refurbishing the historic property that was once a frequent host to celebrities ranging from Babe Ruth to Cary Grant to Elizabeth Taylor. Partnering with Fairmont, which runs a global chain of luxury hotels including the likes of The Plaza in New York and The Savoy in London, will create the kind of five-star destination that the city has lacked and badly needed.
“Previously, certain conventions were not able to choose our destination because we were unable to offer a luxury boutique hotel,” Steve Goodling, president and CEO of the Long Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau, said. “Fairmont’s presence in Long Beach allows us to grow both our convention and pleasure travel markets.”
It also fits nicely into a block-long landscape that Lemmis says will “set the stage for an emerging Rodeo Drive of Long Beach.” If that seems hyperbolic, consider that by next year – The Breakers is slated to open in the fall of 2023 – guests at the hotel will be able to once again enjoy the iconic, now renovated Sky Room restaurant and open air lounge that sits atop the 14-story building, offering 360-degree views. Besides the 185 guest rooms – including 26 suites – there will also be a two-story spa, wellness and fitness center, multiple restaurants, jazz club, music lounge, outdoor pool and terrace along with 12,000-square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting and function space.
If a guest – whether pleasure traveler, conventioneer or Long Beach local with a a membership to the hotel spa and fitness center – decides they want something else, they’ll be able to walk out of The Breakers and, in a leisurely two- to three-minute stroll find themselves at the entrance of Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, arguably the most recognizable and lionized upscale restaurant chain in the county. The restaurant, which opens August 1, is located less than a minute’s walk from the convention center entrance, will feature its usual exceptional assortment of cuts – from 16-ounce Bone-In Filet, to 40-ounce Tomahawk Ribeye – in a cool, contemporary atmosphere featuring such local nods as a wall-length mural of the Queen Mary.
From Ruth’s Chris, you’re less than a block away on Ocean from Ocean Center, which has undergone a $50 million renovation of its own. The building, purchased in 2018 by Pacific6, will feature 80 luxury apartments with access to rooftop terrace, private fitness center, and more.
Directly across the street from Ocean Center, scheduled to open in February of 2023, is the recently opened Solita, a restaurant specializing in contemporary and traditional Mexican cuisine that’s located at the corner of Pine Avenue and Ocean Boulevard, a location traditionally popular with conventioneers looking to grab lunch, dinner or a drink.
Such a concentration of upscale properties and options figures to have an effect on the entirety of Downtown Long Beach, something Heather McCrory, CEO of Fairmont’s parent company, Accor North & Central America, noted that The Breakers will “set the standard for luxury hospitality in Long Beach, bringing to life a vibrant and thriving destination appealing to locals and visitors alike.”
Lemmis agrees, saying that The Breakers will not only fill a gap in the city’s present hotel offerings, but be a leader to “enhance the downtown vibe, expand the downtown reach, beckoning and daring folks to cross the great Ocean Boulevard gap and have some fun experiencing our amazing restaurants, entertainment venues and luxury spa offerings.”