The County Marina del Rey Design Control Board has given conditional conceptual approval for two proposed development projects in the Marina, pending the reaffirmation of a wetlands designation on a portion of a proposed hotel site.
At a Marina Design Control Board meeting Thursday, October 21st, Woodfin Suite Hotel and Vacation Ownership was seeking conceptual approval for a proposed development project at the corner of Via Marina and Tahiti Way in the Marina.
Woodfin Suite Hotel proposes constructing a 20-story building on the 3.66-acre parcel, including 178 suite hotel rooms on the first 11 floors, 108 luxury time-share units on the 12th through 20th floors and a five-story parking structure.
The company also proposes developing a public park on the site that would cover about 1.85 acres of the total area. The site has 386 linear feet of water frontage.
Legacy Residential Partners, Inc. proposes redeveloping the Neptune Marina parcel on Marquesas Way, by constructing 526 apartments and 161 boat slips at the site.
Under the Neptune Marina proposal, a small park would be relocated to the proposed Woodfin hotel parcel.
The park is related to both developments because it forms a common boundary between the two adjacent parcels, but Woodfin would provide the maintenance.
When potential development on the Woodfin site was considered, the possibility of wetland areas on the site was a concern, according to a document of the County Department of Beaches and Harbors.
An investigation into the potential presence of wetlands was conducted and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers — which has jurisdiction over federal wetlands in the Marina — determined that wetlands exist on a 0.85-acre portion of the parcel, according to the document.
Design Control Board chair Susan Cloke said the county intends to challenge the wetlands designation by the Army Corps of Engineers.
Federal and state agencies, including the Army Engineers and the California Coastal Commission, will need to reexamine the science and reconfirm that a portion is wetlands, she said.
Officials of both Legacy and Woodfin were aware of the original wetlands designation on the site, but agreed to move forward with their projects before the agencies reaffirm the designation, she said.
Thomas Farrell, executive vice president of acquisition and development for Woodfin, said the project is still in the conceptual stage.
The Design Control Board gave only conditional conceptual approval for the project, so if the wetlands designation is upheld, the companies will have to revisit the board with a new design, Cloke said.
“If the designation as a wetlands site stood, then neither project could go further and they would have to return to the board for reconsideration,” she said.
“The conditional approval will become meaningless if the wetlands designation is upheld.”
If the county questioned the presence of wetlands on the site, then officials should have approached the Army Corps in the past and not challenge the issue now, she said.
“It’s a real misuse of taxpayer dollars,” Cloke said.
Although the Design Control Board believes a portion is wetlands, some members made recommendations for the proposed Woodfin project.
Another concern of the board is that a shadow might be cast on the public park by the large hotel structure.
Members suggested redesigning the project so that the smaller parking structure was closer to the park, creating less of a shadow.
“We’re concerned about the amount of shade exposed to the park,” board member Peter Phinney told Woodfin representatives.
The conditional conceptual approval for the proposed Woodfin hotel project allows the developer to proceed with an environmental impact report, but if the wetlands designation is upheld, the project will have to go back to the design stages, she said.
“We want to make sure we’ve done every possible thing to protect the wetlands,” Cloke said.