Marking the start of construction which is anticipated to provide hundreds of jobs, Los Angeles officials hailed a mixed-use project for its work-related opportunities, proposed sustainable features and creation of additional housing at a prime corner of Del Rey.

Developers Merlone Geier Partners and GLJ Partners were joined by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and City Councilman Bill Rosendahl during an official groundbreaking ceremony Oct. 7 for the planned $110 million development at 13488 Maxella Ave., adjacent to Lincoln Boulevard and the entrance of the Marina Freeway (State Route 90).

Known as “Stella,” the project will consist of two modern mid-rise buildings containing 244 apartment units, with 10 percent designated as affordable, above 9,000 square feet of retail space. The planned development will rise to a maximum height of 70 feet and provide subterranean and ground level parking.

The developers have touted that the residential project is the only one of its size that is projected to open in the area in the next two years. Expected to earn a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification for its building features, the complex would become the first green residential community in that part of Del Rey, developers note.

“In addition to creating a new green high-density, mixed-use community, Stella will create jobs and be an economic stimulus for the Del Rey and Venice neighborhoods,” said Jim Atkins, managing director of Merlone Geier Partners.

Villaraigosa pointed to hard hats displayed during the groundbreaking, saying he is encouraged by the estimated 300 to 400 construction jobs to be created in the next two years, as well as 10 permanent jobs excluding retail.

“This is a city that needs housing right now, and it’s a city thirsty for jobs,” said the mayor, noting there is a need all across America to put people back to work.

“This is a groundbreaking that lifts my spirits. This is a site that will soon be filled with hard-working Angelenos and new LEED-certified buildings that will help revitalize the gateway here in the Marina, making today’s groundbreaking very important for our workforce.”

Rosendahl also referred to one of the project’s key elements: job creation during a struggling economy.

“The fact that in this down economy we have a developer who is willing to do something with a piece of land like this is a huge plus for everybody,” said Rosendahl, who represents the Del Rey community in the 11th Council District. “This is a win for the community, it’s a win for the neighborhood councils and it’s a win for the entire city.”

Residents have said that in addition to the jobs provided, they believe that the development will help revitalize the area and increase property values for that part of Del Rey. Prior to Merlone Geier’s proposal, the project site, which is adjacent to the popular Villa Marina Marketplace, included a number of vacant buildings for some time as the former property owner’s plan for a mixed-use project fell through.

Some residents had argued that the new housing plan does not offer enough open space among its amenities and were skeptical that the project will revitalize Del Rey. But Atkins stressed that green space is offered to residents through a private open space element as well as a pedestrian friendly streetscape environment that includes 15 trees, supporting the mayor’s “Million Trees Initiative.”

Developers additionally emphasized the project’s central location within easy walking and biking distance to nearby Marina del Rey, the beach, restaurants and shopping, and close proximity to Los Angeles International Airport. The planned ground floor retail will include a new restaurant and FedEx Office, formerly Kinko’s.

“The more we don’t have to get into our cars the happier we will be. I like where we are moving with this,” said Rosendahl, explaining that his constituents are fed up with the traffic congestion in the district.

Among the proposed amenities is a “hub” area where residents can clean, repair and store their bicycles. In support of biking services, project representatives presented the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition with a $3,000 donation at the groundbreaking.

“Stella is in such a great location. We’d like to thank the developers for making great amenities which will allow people to walk or bike to their destination,” said Jennifer Klausner, bicycle coalition executive director.

Garth Erdossy of developer GLJ Partners said Stella is intended to become a “great residential community within a great residential community.” The name for the development is based on the concept of “reaching for the stars,” he explained.

When envisioning the project, the goal was to create a community that reflects its urban location but one that is also connected to the beach lifestyle, Erdossy said. Some of the amenities include a saltwater pool and sundeck with a sand beach and palm trees, a fitness center and yoga studio, and a community recreation room.

Construction is slated to be completed by fall 2012.

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