Hetty Chang/Kristopher LI
Business owners and city officials are upbeat about the news that Mercedes could come to the old Long Beach Boeing plant. Hetty Chang reports from Long Beach for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014.
After sitting empty for eight years, the old Boeing facility on Lakewood Boulevard and Conant Street in Long Beach is opening a new chapter with a new tenant -- Mercedes-Benz.
The German carmaker has yet to release any details about the lease, which begins March 1, for its western regional office, but NBC4 confirmed through CBRE, the leasing company, that the 15-year lease is one of the largest commercial leases signed in Los Angeles County in 25 years.
The 1.1 million square foot facility was home to Boeing's 717 site, which closed in 2006 after production stopped. Boeing's nearby C-17 plant is also slated to close after production there ceases in 2015.
Fred Mooshagian, who worked at the facility nearly 60 years ago, said a major corporation like Mercedes Benz moving in, is welcome news.
"Aerospace is disappearing from this area and going to other states but to have activity like that, a car manufacturer assembling cars?," he said. "Absolutely!"
The influx of workers into the area is perfect timing for the new strip mall across the street, where tenants like Starbucks, The Habit Burger and Jersey Mike's Subs, just moved in.
"We know that Mercedes Benz is coming in, and then we have the Habit and Starbucks," said Gary Maldia of the sub shop. "They will benefit."
Mercedes Benz, which has been very tight-lipped about its lease, did not return NBC4's calls for comment Thursday.
Bob Foster, the mayor of Long Beach, which has an unemployment rate of nearly 10 percent, said he hopes Mercedes will consider hiring locally.
"Mercedes has a big footprint here," he said. "They have research facilities near by here. This is going to increase their presence in and around Long Beach.
The city has been in talks with Mercedes for about a year, according to Foster. As part of the lease agreement, Mercedes will keep the iconic "Fly DC Jets" logo on the building, in order to preserve the aerospace industry's long time history in the area.