“Waldbaum’s was a vital shot in the arm for the community when it opened in 1984,” Eaton added. “That was sort of like the beginning.”
Fleishman and Eaton said that Elovich was among those who helped the city turn a corner toward respectability in the early 1980s, when the decrepit buildings and hotels that housed mental patients began to be demolished. “After a few years, all of these places were shut down … this was part of a community-wide effort,” Eaton said. “Some of these guys who owned these hotels … they were waterfront properties, and they just walked away. The city would take their property for nonpayment of taxes, auctioned them off and reached out to the development community.”
Chamber of Commerce President Michael Kerr explained that Elovich persuaded developers to purchase the rundown hotels and build new oceanfront buildings. As Elovich put it in 2007, “In the 1980s, property values went through the roof and the city got rid of every boarding house in town. A big project with a Waldbaum’s knocked down a lot of less-than-desirable houses, and it went from there to having condos on the beach.”
Throughout his life, Elovich supported economic development in the city and remained influential in local politics. In a 1998 interview with The New York Times, he said he supported the construction of a hotel and convention center on the Superblock property, and called on city officials to reject proposals to build an assisted-living center. Kerr said that he and Elovich encouraged the city to approve a variance that allowed Long Beach Cinemas to open over a decade ago, and that Elovich was a big supporter of the Allegria Hotel, which opened in 2009.
In 2002, when Long Beach was portrayed as a grimy and dilapidated city in the film “City by the Sea,” which starred Robert DeNiro, Elovich said that residents were due an apology. He and other city officials held a press conference lashing out at the portrayal of Long Beach in the film, which was shot in Asbury Park, N.J.
“By the time the movie came out, [the city] had turned around considerably,” Eaton said. “A lot of people had put a lot of effort into turning the city around. [But] Larry didn’t think that was very nice.”