Today we’re talking to Austin Metoyer, Economic Development & Policy Manager for Downtown Long Beach Alliance 

Downtown Long Beach Alliance (DLBA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to cultivating, preserving, and promoting a healthy, safe, and prosperous Downtown, in cooperation with the City of Long Beach and the private sector. The DLBA supports the businesses and property owners within Downtown Long Beach, and are champions of its ongoing development.

 

Please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I was born and raised in Long Beach, and attended Long Beach Polytechnic High School and Long Beach State University. Before graduating from college, I rarely came Downtown, save only to visit the Main Library with my dad on the weekends. After college in 2013, I moved to Washington, D.C. and worked for a real estate planning firm, Brailsford & Dunlavey. I worked in D.C. for three years and would visit family for the holidays. It was then that I started noticing some positive changes that were occurring in Downtown Long Beach, including the rebranding of the Pike as the Pike Outlets and new restaurants along the Promenade. In 2016, I moved back to Long Beach and started working for the Downtown Long Beach Alliance (DLBA). At that time, it was called Downtown Long Beach Associates.

 

Tell us about the Downtown Long Beach Alliance. What is the history of the organization, and what is your overall vision for Long Beach?
The Downtown Long Beach Alliance (DLBA) was established by Downtown merchants in 1937 to establish a resource to promote the Pine Avenue Corridor. At that time, the organization was known as Downtown Long Beach Associates. Since then, the organization has grown in scope and programming and changed its name from Associates to Alliance to denote the shift from a business-focused organization to a community-focused organization. In 2019, the organization operates the two business improvement districts in Downtown Long Beach, with a geographical footprint that goes as far north as 10th Street and as far south as the waterfront. The DLBA represents over 1,600 businesses in Downtown and 4,000 commercial and residential property owners.

 

Downtown Long Beach is undergoing a “Renaissance.” Please explain what that means and how the DLBA was instrumental.
The renaissance that Downtown Long Beach is experiencing is a result of several initiatives that the DLBA partnered with the City of Long Beach, Council Districts 1 and 2, and several community and neighborhood organizations. This renaissance has included the expansion and diversity of the Downtown food and bar scene and some new retail options that aren’t just big brand retailers, resulting in the growth in a number of independent and uniquely Long Beach shops. We have also experienced an increase in the Downtown residential population.

 

The Downtown Plan, also known as PD-30, is the long-range planning document for most of Downtown Long Beach. The Downtown Plan was supported by the DLBA and championed by former Councilwoman Suja Lowenthal and then former Councilman, now Mayor, Robert Garcia. The Downtown Plan anticipated growth in residential, commercial office, and retail, and provided the development community with a clear roadmap on how to get there.

 

In the last seven years, we’ve seen a willingness from the public sector to invest in much-needed infrastructure. This investment included the Civic Center Project, the Governor George Deukmejian Courthouse project, the Gerald Desmond Bridge project, and the passage of Measure A. This was a signal to the development and business communities that Long Beach and Downtown Long Beach were ready and willing to make huge strides in improving the overall quality of life.

 

As a champion for ongoing development in Downtown Long Beach, how did the DLBA supported Deco?
As noted, the DLBA was a champion of the planning document called the Downtown Plan. The Downtown Plan outlined anticipated residential development for Downtown, with roughly 5,000 units projected. The DLBA has supported the development of housing at all levels, from affordable to market-rate throughout our Downtown. We supported the development of the Deco because the project not only aligned with our strategic plan, but also brought online nearly 100 more units of desperately needed housing.

 

What are some of the activities and initiatives DBLA is currently implementing? What is their impact?
The DLBA has several programmatic areas to help facilitate a vibrant and healthy Downtown.

 

Public Space Activation & Corridor Beautification
The DLBA recognizes the importance of updating our existing City wayfinding system, as we’ve long been advocates for improving pedestrian connectivity within Downtown, particularly between the Downtown Core and the Waterfront; and the East Village and Downtown Core. As such, we’ve funded the design phase of the pedestrian wayfinding system, and partnered with the City to ensure new pedestrian signage is consistent with the overall Long Beach wayfinding system

 

Also, Downtown will now find some of its sidewalks adorned with pedestrian-oriented directional decals as a part of a new connectivity project. The “Explore DTLB” sidewalk decal project was initiated by the DLBA’s Public Realm Committee out of a desire to identify tactical and relatively inexpensive solutions to foster pedestrian connectivity within and between DTLB’s neighborhoods. The project aims to encourage the on-foot exploration of Downtown’s unique neighborhoods by using bold and distinctive decals strategically placed on Downtown sidewalks.

 

In 2017, the DLBA commissioned artist Hataya Tubtim to create the first crosswalk art project in Downtown Long Beach. The goal of the project was to further support a vibrant pedestrian environment by adding a sense of delight and discovery to the public realm. Five unique designs were installed on Pine Avenue between 1st Street and 7th Street in March 2017. Each design recognizes the legacy of the human enterprise during the first century of Long Beach’s development while acknowledging the importance of a vibrant marine environment along our coast.

 

Public Safety
The Downtown Long Beach Clean Team is dedicated to beautifying our community. Starting their day early, team members sweep away litter and debris before shops open and throughout the day. Clean Team services go above and beyond what is provided by the City, including pressure washing, graffiti removal, and more.

 

Our Safety Ambassadors are highly trained staff that patrol the streets of the central business district on foot, bike and Segway 12-18 hours a day. They serve as friendly goodwill ambassadors by welcoming residents, workers, and visitors. Safety Ambassadors also assist in overall crime prevention by working closely with the Long Beach Police Department.

 

The DLBA’s Homeless Outreach Specialist works to build relationships with our Downtown homeless population, and assist them in accessing local resources and social service agencies. With this service, the DLBA can provide specialized attention to overcome barriers to assist our homeless neighbors, including street outreach, collaboration, and data sharing with city and community partners by working closely with the Long Beach Police Department.

 

Special Events
The DLBA annually produces signature events, which are always free and open to the public. Our events appeal to a wide array of audiences, and we hope residents, businesses, and visitors will come out to enjoy them. We are currently in our summer event season, which includes Taste of Downtown, a three-event series; and two KWCR Summer Nights events – one with POW! WOW! Long Beach on July 27 and the other with Summer & Music on September 7. We continue to host our monthly music event, Live After 5, every third Thursday of the month. You can visit our website to learn more about our upcoming events.

 

What are you most proud of, and what sets the DLBA apart? 
I’m most proud of the DLBA’s ability to bring a number of Downtown stakeholders and interest groups together to push for a common goal. The DLBA has always strived to push Downtown Long Beach in a positive direction, and that requires creating an environment that is inclusive of all perspectives, but provides the necessary leadership to get there.

 

What do you love about Long Beach? Do you have a favorite neighborhood? What do you enjoy doing when you’re there?
I love that Long Beach is a big little city. It doesn’t overwhelm you with towering buildings like Los Angeles or feel the suburbs in Orange County; it provides a nice blend of the two. Long Beach has so many diverse neighborhoods and a diversity of architectural styles, from mid-century modern to Spanish style, bungalows, and old Victorians. I love exploring the various neighborhoods like the Santa Fe Corridor, Uptown, Bixby Knolls, Wrigley, Alamitos Beach, and Cambodia Town. However, my favorite neighborhood is where I live and work, and that is in Downtown Long Beach. Downtown offers so many options when it comes to food and entertainment. I enjoy grabbing a beer at Beachwood or Congregation on Friday afternoons. I enjoy being able to run to the Lions Lighthouse early in the morning and being able to jump on the AquaLink and enjoy a drink as you cruise across the bay.

 

Grand Opening: My Pediatrics & Respiratory Care Clinic

Image courtesy of DLBA

 

Sidewalk Decal Installation – Wayfinding Program

Image courtesy of DLBA

 

Taste of Downtown East Village Event

Image courtesy of DLBA

 

1 Million Cups Long Beach

Image courtesy of DLBA

 

Title photo: Austin Metoyer

Image courtesy of  Long Beach Business Journal

 

Contact Info:

Business Address: 100 W Broadway #120, Long Beach, CA 90802

Website: downtownlongbeach.org

Email: info@dlba.org

Instagram: @dlba

Facebook: @downtownlongbeach

Twitter: @DLBA

 

Deco blog celebrates entrepreneurs, creatives, business leaders, and other influencers who are making an impact in Long Beach. These amazing people share their inspiring stories in their own voice, and give a personal perspective on what makes our community such a great place to work, live and play.

 

 

 

 

WRAPPED Fine Art provides museum-quality works of custom art for the residential, corporate, financial, and hospitality industries. The artwork is brought to life by a highly skilled and incredibly talented team of in-house artists, working in a complete range of styles and media. Work produced at WRAPPED Fine Art graces the homes of royal families and prestigious collectors, and can be found on the walls of some of the world’s most luxurious and exclusive properties.

WRAPPED created the extraordinary artwork on display at Deco, setting the mood for the luxury, designer living experience that younger tenants are looking for.

 

Please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Fellow co-founder Ryland and I met as freshmen at Pomona College. We formed an instant friendship and determined early in our college careers that we wanted to go into business together upon graduating with degrees in economics. I’ve had an interest in architecture since I was a young child and wanted to incorporate my passion for design into the business. Ryland, a lifelong artist, is the son of painter Charles Arnoldi. He grew up in an art studio, mixing paints, stretching canvases, and creating works of art since he was a very young child. Ry and I agreed that art and design had to be the core foundation of the company that eventually evolved into WRAPPED Studios. We spent a year after college traveling around the world, studying different cultures and traditions. We’re avid surfers, outdoorsmen and adventurers, sharing a quintessential California aesthetic that evolved with travel and time to encompass an international sensibility. We came home from our travels, rolled up our sleeves, and built WRAPPED Studios.  

 

Tell us about your artistic concept for Deco. What was your approach and inspiration?

We teamed with the client to bring the history of Long Beach to life. We took the evolving neighborhood, proximity to the shore, and historic pier all into consideration. Ultimately, we created artwork that is a tribute to the landscape over the years. Through abstract interpretations of the scenic coastline, pier, and beachgoers, the environment at Deco becomes more engaging and impactful for tenants and guests alike. 

 

What is your personal artistic philosophy? Do you have a favorite artist? What are your influences?

WRAPPED is a studio that merges the traditional world of visual arts with cutting edge technology to create compelling original works. Our site-specific works are designed to deliver an immersive experience, while exploring the crossover between art and technology. Drawing upon the culture, architecture, and identity of the space, our custom artwork strives to complement the people living and interacting with it on a daily basis. By embracing the newest technologies, tools and mediums, we aim to create original and compelling artwork that brings joy and wonder into the everyday experience, democratizing the experience of fine art. Some favorite artists who share a similar approach include Wade Guyton, Gerhard Richter and Damien Hirst.

 

It’s great to pursue your passion, but we know it’s not always easy. Tell us about your challenges and successes.

I think we serve a very specialized niche catering to high-end, design-focused clients. Lots of developers are not as focused on the aesthetics of a project, so when we first started working with Ensemble, we were thrilled that they put such a high value on the art and design that goes into each of their projects.

 

What are you most proud of as a company, and what sets you apart?

As part of the next generation of art consultants, our progressive process transforms a client’s vision into a dynamic, tailored and installed art plan. While our patent pending process lends itself to spectacularly massive art installations and videos, the highly custom nature of our business ensures each space in a property is inhabited by artwork that is perfectly suited for it. From static artwork on canvas, aluminum, or under glass, to licenses for textiles and carpets; experiential/way-finding artwork expressed by hand-painted murals and wall coverings; and  video artwork for screens as small as a TV to the length of a football field; WRAPPED Studios creates artwork that is as contagious as it is pedigreed.

 

Let’s get out the crystal ball – what does the future hold and what are your next steps?

With the explosion of LED screens in buildings and on city streets all over the world, the age of digital/video art has truly arrived. Moving forward, we’re particularly excited about creating vibrant, dynamic, hi-resolution video artwork in the WRAPPED tradition of unparalleled quality and innovation. Our work is site-specific, formatted to fill LED screens and other digital installations with our unique attention to detail and revolutionary designs.

 

If you lived in a parallel universe, what would you be doing?

Living my best life as a bulldog!

 

What do you love about Long Beach? Do you have a favorite neighborhood? What do you enjoy doing when you’re there?

I love that you can simultaneously connect with the history of Long Beach while also watching it’s transformation when you’re there. As a company with roots in Southern California, it’s a pleasure working on a project that hits close to home, not only in proximity, but also in artistic direction. Downtown Long Beach is definitely a favorite neighborhood because it encapsulates the heart of Long Beach and is at the center of the city’s transformation. Another favorite is Belmont Shore, a quaint and quintessential SoCal beach town.

 

 

 

All images courtesy of WRAPPED Fine Art

 

Contact Info: Jen Mehranvary or Sam Seidman

Business Address: 333 Indiana Ave. Venice CA 90291

Website:  wrappedla.com 

Email: jen@wrappedla.com or sam.seidman@wrappedla.com

Instagram: @wrappedla

Facebook: @wrappedLA

Twitter: @WrappedLA

 

Deco blog celebrates entrepreneurs, creatives, business leaders, and other influencers who are making an impact in Long Beach. These amazing people share their inspiring stories in their own voice, and give a personal perspective on what makes our community such a great place to work, live and play.