The owner of a property in one of the most frequently traveled areas of Del Rey is hoping to bring life back to a site where a number of buildings have stood vacant.

A portion of the Villa Marina Marketplace along the 13400 block of Maxella Avenue, adjacent to Lincoln Boulevard and the entrance to the Marina Freeway (State Route 90) has been undeveloped since the former property owner’s plan for a mixed-use project fell through. The Olson Company had proposed to construct 244 residential units and 9,000 square feet of retail space at the site which previously contained a Carl’s Jr., Marie Callender’s and Chan Darette restaurants and Kinko’s.

Although the former project proposal never took shape, the current property owner, Villa Marina MHRP, is looking to move forward with the plans to develop the property with a similar mixed-use project. The Del Rey Neighborhood Council had endorsed the original proposal and its Planning, Land Use and Transportation Committee is now recommending that the council support the new plan.

Like the former developer, Villa Marina MHRP is proposing to build 244 apartment units, with ten percent designated for very-low-income tenants, and 9,000 square feet of retail space at the site, said Jim Atkins, managing director of developer Merlone Geier Partners.

The development will rise to a maximum height of 70 feet and provide subterranean and ground level parking. The planned ground floor retail space will include a new restaurant and Kinko’s, which is currently at another part of the shopping center.

The developer has redesigned the project for high-end apartments under a plan that allows for future conversion to condominiums, Atkins said.

“We plan to develop a high-end, market rate apartment project with an affordable (component) that is built to condominium standards,” he said.

The property owner of the larger portion of the Villa Marina shopping center has also discussed plans to redevelop the site and Merlone Geier is hoping its project will improve the section of the complex along Lincoln Boulevard.

“We hope this will begin to enliven the other side of Maxella, as well as along Lincoln,” Atkins said. “This parcel of the property is wonderfully located in the center of a great recreational area, with tremendous shopping and great transportation access.”

Del Rey community members have also referred to the property’s prime location with access to shopping and restaurants and say they are in support of development moving forward in the currently vacant lot.

“We’ve got to do something with that area because it represents blight in Del Rey,” said Mark Redick, president of the Del Rey Neighborhood Council, which has not voted on the proposal. “This center can’t sit like that anymore.”

Planning and Land Use Committee chair Steve Knight said he is also pleased to see progress being made with the plans and added that the development will offer various amenities for residents.

“I’m glad to see it’s going to be developed,” said Knight, whose committee voted June 25th to support the plan.

“In reality it’s probably the best use of the property right now. Both temporary and permanent jobs will go in there and that’s a plus for the community.”

Redick also spoke of the jobs provided through the project and said that once development is completed, it will help revitalize the area and increase property values for that part of the community.

“It will immediately enhance the commercial portion of that part of Del Rey,” the neighborhood council president said. “When it’s done we will have a revitalized portion of that shopping center that right now is doing the community no good.”

Atkins said the developer is confident the mixed-use project will benefit the community when the property is finally redeveloped.

“We look for the project to be an additive to the community and we certainly hope it will be perceived that way,” he said.

Merlone Geier hopes to break ground on the project in the spring next year, with construction expected to take 20 to 24 months to complete, Atkins said.

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