Challenging Hi Rise on Long Beach Coastline

Tallest Building in the City to be first LEED-ND Gold certified

By Oren Peleg

Long Beach is set to have a new tallest building this summer. When it wraps construction in July, the Shoreline Gateway project along Ocean Boulevard will stand 417 feet tall — 20 feet higher than the city’s previous tallest, One World Trade Center. The 35-story residential development is the city’s first LEED-ND Gold-certified structure, and will have 315 luxury apartments (many with sweeping ocean views) atop ground-floor retail. The project was first unveiled in 2003, and broke ground in 2018 with Build Group as the general contractor.

For the electricians of IBEW’s Local 11, working on Long Beach’s future tallest building is not only a point of pride, but a job with unique perks: “I can look over my shoulder and see the ocean every day,” says Marco Pastrana, a second-year IBEW 11 apprentice.

“You can even see the port from there, and that’s becoming increasingly unionized too now,” he continues. “So, it’s almost a metaphor for watching the union grow.”

But the superlatives of the job also bring some challenges. Compound those with a global pandemic, and it’s easy to see why this project has been unlike any other.

“In my 25 years, this is the most challenging project I have had to manage,” says Leo Medina, Local 11 member and general foreman for Rosendin Electric, the electrical contractor on the Shoreline Gateway tower. One of the main challenges has been the aggressive timeline on the build, another has been the logistics of operating a full construction site in the middle of a dense downtown area.

“They’re pouring a new floor every week,” Medina explains. This accelerated schedule leaves his team of 32 electricians with about five days to finish each floor. Even with the crew’s roughly 1,280 labor hours a week, it’s a tight timetable.

The scale of the project means receiving deliveries “is a project in itself,” adds Mitchell Cardenas, IBEW 11 member and Rosendin’s foreman on the job. Cardenas notes that “one of our biggest obstacles is logistics.”

Between pedestrian and car traffic delaying trucks along Ocean Boulevard, and other trades on the job site receiving their own deliveries, “you have to be super methodical and schedule deliveries so that you’re ready with your forklifts and everything.”

It’s a balance Cameille Brisco, a fifth-year apprentice with Local 11, knows well. “Part of navigating such a fast workplace environment is having what you need ready so you don’t run into down time with delays,” she explains. “But there will always be a snag, even with preparations. So you have to head it off and keep a calm mind.”

Working on the Shoreline Gateway project, Brisco says, has taught her “the ins and outs of leading other apprentices and helping them understand how the process works.” The union, she notes, has been instrumental in securing these jobs for her, along with the non-profit 2nd Call that has supported Brisco by teaching her “the skills necessary to maintain a career in this profession.”

Ensuring safety standards during the pandemic has been a central focus for the team. IBEW has helped its members stay protected on the job site by enforcing CDC social-distancing guidelines, and paying for face shields and sanitizer. According to Medina, Build Corp has gone a step beyond CDC protocols and paid for twice-weekly COVID testing.

Yet, for all its challenges, many of the Local 11 crew have a personal connection to Long Beach and see the Shoreline Gateway project as part of their legacy. Mitchell Cardenas grew up in the city, and still has family a mile away from the tower.

“I’ll be able to drive by this building for years to come and say I was involved in that,” Cardenas says. “Take pride in your work. Generations to come are going to see it, and it’ll be your legacy.”

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