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    Central LB Gets Union Bank Branch @ Renaissance Square, Atlantic Ave. @ 19th St.

    Renaissance Sq. Union Bank Aug. 21/04

    (August 21, 2004) -- LB's top officials joined central city residents on August 21 to celebrate the opening of a Union Bank branch on Atlantic Ave. at 19th St. at Renaissance Square.

    The new 12,000 square foot building will house Union Bank in its ground floor suite and a neighborhood-serving non-profit and City services on the second floor.

    Renaissance Sq. Union Bank Aug. 21/04Mayor Beverly O'Neill and Community Development Director Melanie Fallon chat with one of LB's finest.

    Renaissance Sq. Union Bank Aug. 21/04Redevelopment Bureau Manager Barbara Kaiser (left) with Janet Lerch and 9th district Councilman Val Lerch.

    Renaissance Sq. Union Bank Aug. 21/04Connie Martinez Sziebl (photo left), Deputy to L.A. County Supervisor Don Knabe, gathers informational material.

    Renaissance Sq. Union Bank Aug. 21/04Union Bank has partnered with Operation Hope, described in a Redevelopment Agency release as a Los Angeles based nonprofit that will operate a financial literacy center that will offer free capacity building classes and workshops to the community.

    Renaissance Sq. Union Bank Aug. 21/04Melanie Fallon, Community Development Director: This is a great day for Long Beach...It's a continuation of the city's commitment to central Long Beach.

    This project has been six years in the coming. It was first dreamed about in 1998 and it has not been one of our easiest projects, but I can't tell you how thrilled we have been to be at this place where Union Bank and Operation Hope will become our first tenants on the first floor of this facility. [applause]

    ...The reality and our hopes for the second floor is that we can bring needed city and community services into the community, services that pertain to jobs and job placement, housing programs, a community room for meetings for community organizations and non-profit groups.

    ...There are a lot of really things that we in the city are working on for central Long Beach...There is new housing being proposed on the two blocks between 22d and 20th St. across from Renaissance Walk. We are working with Minora [sp?] housing on a senior housing project on Atlantic at Vernon. We're working with a developer at the American Marketplace for a retail, mixed use center at Long Beach and Anaheim.

    We're also actively working with the School District [which] intends to build at least one more new school in central Long Beach, and we're collaborating with them to make sure that that school can be just the very best school it can be, and we're looking at adding some mixed uses to that school site, possibly additional park space, possibly a new library, possibly social service agencies and maybe additional housing.

    We're also looking at strategies to remove the prostitute hotels off Pacific Coast Highway which is a high priority for the Council office [strong applause].

    And we have a number of park projects we're working in, the improvement and expansion of Chittick Field, as well as within the next couple of months the completion of the Daryle Black Park on Pasadena. [applause]...

    Renaissance Sq. Union Bank Aug. 21/04Councilwoman Laura Richardson: ...Isn't it ironic that I would be standing here today when only probably about 36 years ago, I was crawling on the floor of my cousin's home because we couldn't turn on the lights, and we didn't want to have any movement because the Watts riot was going on.

    And isn't it ironic that over 36 years later, that same young lady would be standing before you to look at a transformation of the community that really, after the 1992 riots, this community had tremendous challenges. And the blight, and the things that the community had to struggle with to be able to make it a real community is amazing what has happened in the last ten years...

    Renaissance Sq. Union Bank Aug. 21/04We need to applaud those members of the community who have been steadfast, please stand [applause] we couldn't do it without you. [invites several audience members to stand, applause continues].

    Renaissance Sq. Union Bank Aug. 21/04...I really couldn't help but think of about Dr. Martin Luther King this morning, and I was thinking this really is a dream come true for so many people. And I want to just share very briefly and some ideas that I have about that quote from Dr. Martin Luther King...

    I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. This community still has a dream. It is deeply rooted in our hearts and it is the American dream.

    I have a dream, we have a dream, that one day this nation, and yes this very city of Long Beach, will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed...We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men -- all men -- all cultures, are created equal. That all men will be treated equal. That's what today is about.

    Renaissance Sq. Union Bank Aug. 21/04And so as I look at our Cambodian Chamber of Commerce that is here, our Long Beach Black Chamber of Commerce that has kicked off a tremendous event this week in bringing in the statewide convention, as we look at the community, it really is all of our dreams that have come true...

    Renaissance Sq. Union Bank Aug. 21/04Mayor Beverly O'Neill: ...[Refers to Olympics in progress]...and we see some of the swimmers that we have known in the City of Long Beach winning, and they get a gold medal.

    And I feel like today we have a gold medal. I think that what we're here for is because we have achieved a gold medal. [applause]. And when you win a gold medal, it isn't just because you showed up. You win a gold medal because you worked hard, you tried hard, you have tried very much to do the best that you can...

    ...There are people that have dreams and then there are people that do. When you can find a person that has dreams that's also a do-er, you have found someone very special, and that's what Laura Richardson, your Councilwoman, is. [applause] She has dreams, but she doesn't just sit and think about them. She wants to do something about them and she does do something about them...

    ...It hasn't been just one or two people. This has taken several years...This is a significant step for the 6th district, significant step. And it's kind of like if you pull out a little pebble, and you've taken that pebble and then all of a sudden, everything rolls down after it, and that's what's going to happen. And Councilmember Richardson has made that happen, because these are all small steps, but they add up to great strides for the city, and I thank her for that.

    ...I thank you for all the work that those of you that have been part of this have done for this particular project...There are representatives from...HUD, the Department of Commerce, the Economic Development Administration, the Atlantic Community Development Corporation, the City of Long Beach, the Redevelopment Agency, the Community Development Advisory Board, the Neighborhood Services Bureau, Public Corporation for the Arts, and if I've left someone out I apologize to you, but also of course the wonderful Union Bank that has become the milestone and the rock for this particular corner...

    Renaissance Sq. Union Bank Aug. 21/04City Manager Jerry Miller: ...It really is terrific when a plan comes together...I'd like to say on behalf of the entire city staff of the City of Long Beach how much we appreciate being part of this and we'd like to offer our congratulations to Councilmember Richardson [applause].

    ...I just can't think of a better example of an economic development or a community development project. This project really has all the ingredients and I know it's going to successful because the community is going to support it...

    ...Union Bank became basically the city's bank about two years ago, I believe, and as a byproduct of that agreement, Union Bank committed to building this branch basically in this underserved community. In exchange for that, the City Council agreed that they should be recognized and supported for that effort...

    Renaissance Sq. Union Bank Aug. 21/04[This is] a cardboard check that basically represents a $10 million investment in a Certificate of Deposit, to be deposited here at this Union Bank branch by the City of Long Beach. [loud cheers].

    [Councilwoman Richardson noted that the $10 million is part of the sum that City Hall is required to maintain (in CDs, savings and the like) for solvency and had deposited elsewhere but is now moving to Union Bank. "I just didn't want people to think we were givin' away $10 million in our budget crisis," Councilwoman Richardson said to audience laughter.]

    Renaissance Sq. Union Bank Aug. 21/04Redevelopment Agency Board chair John Gooding: ...The Redevelopment Agency has had a number of projects that have helped revitalize this Atlantic corridor. We have Renaissance Walk next door, which are the single family homes. We have more residential planned for across the street. Recently we just removed the liquor store on the next corner that we're going to sell off to a neighborhood business. And really pleased to announce we just closed escrow yesterday on a site up on Atlantic just south of Willow where we're going to hopefully have a 60-80 unit project which is going to be designed for senior housing, primarily for people on very limited income [applause].

    The Redevelopment Agency hopes that we can have many more of these groundbreaking ceremonies in the coming months and years as we further develop this strategic Atlantic corridor...

    Among others spotted (not pictured): 7th district Councilwoman Tonia Reyes Uranga, 2d district Council office Chief of Staff Mark Taylor; 9th district Field Deputy Dan Pressburg; Redevelopment Agency Board members Tom Fields, Alan Burks and Rick Meghiddo.

    Ms. Fallon noted that 1st district Councilwoman Bonnie Lowenthal would have attended ("this has been a very favored project of hers") but a broken her leg and arm intervened. (1st district office Chief of Staff Niki Tennant attended).

    Renaissance Sq. Union Bank Aug. 21/04Ratanak Oeurn, Producer, Asian American Broadcasting Co. (LB Charter Cable channel 22-B) does an on-scene report in the Cambodian language.

    Renaissance Sq. Union Bank Aug. 21/04The project includes two public artworks:

    Family Tree by artist Janet Dreager stands at the northeast corner of 19th St. and Atlantic Ave.

    Inscribed stones accompany the artist-created tree with words (in English, Spanish and Cambodian languages) by former State Dept. spokesman (later PBS host) Hodding Carter:

    "There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children: one is roots, the other wings."

    Another artwork on site (not shown) is Liquid Currency by artists Ron Garcia and Steve Elicker.

    The entire project is a collaboration between the City of LB, the LB Redevelopment Agency and (as described in a Redevelopment Agency release) "the Central Long Beach community to develop a center that will focus on economic revitalization in the community."

    The release adds, "Recognizing the need for the revitalization of the Atlantic Ave. Corridor, the City and the Agency are committed to develop products and provide improved services to the surrounding neighborhood. Renaissance Square will serve as a catalyst for economic growth, job creation and improving the quality of life for the residents of Central Long Beach."

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