Having learned of a developer’s plans for three future mixed-use projects in their community, some Playa del Rey residents are stressing their desire to ensure that such projects do not drastically change the character of the small beach town.

A group of local residents say they called for a community meeting Wednesday, October 21st where they could offer input on developer Legado Companies’ future project proposals for two Culver Boulevard lots and at the Toes Beach sand dunes off Pacific Avenue.

Developer representatives primarily addressed the proposal for the parcel at 138 Culver Blvd., also known as “Jake’s Lot,” saying that the other two plans are in the initial stages and still being refined.

Derek Jones, chief operating officer for Legado Companies, explained to The Argonaut that the mixed-use project at “Jake’s Lot,” a triangular-shaped property, has evolved from a townhome concept to an apartment/flat concept based on community input. The project, which previously called for four stories of residences above ground-floor retail, has been scaled back to three stories for a maximum height of 50 feet, Jones said.

The development consists of 63 total apartment units, ten percent identified as affordable, above about 12,000 square feet of ground-floor retail, he said. Two levels of subterranean parking will be provided on site.

“We wanted to make this concept something that the neighbors will be proud of,” Jones said.

The developer has also discussed ideas for projects at 220 Culver Blvd., the current site of Outlaws restaurant, and at a Toes Beach parcel, but Jones said the plans are expected to be refined based on further planning meetings.

The 220 Culver plan has called for incorporating the Outlaws restaurant into the building at 200 Culver Blvd., also known as the Runyan building, which houses Tanner’s Coffee and was recently designated a Los Angeles historic/cultural monument. The current Outlaws building would be demolished and a mixed-use project with 60 residential units would be constructed under the plan, Jones has said.

The initial plans for the Toes Beach site off Pacific calls for 29 homes in a small lot subdivision and 4,000 square feet of retail space, according to GMP Architects.

Jones noted that some in Playa del Rey have expressed feelings that the community has diverted from fitting a pedestrian-oriented way of life and the developer aims to create projects that have a “look and feel” that the community can be proud of.

But residents who have attended meetings on the proposals say they have concerns with issues such as height and density, with the blocking of coastal views from the bluffs, traffic impacts and impacts on the character of the beach community. Some believe that the 63-unit Jake’s Lot project is out of scale with what they say is the last beach community in Los Angeles.

“Our concerns are that the height and density are too large for this village and we want it to be compatible with the needs of the community,” said 30-year resident Julie Inouye, the chair of an ad-hoc committee of Playa del Rey peninsula residents.

“We’re not anti-development but we want a development that’s going to match the energy of the community; and we are a very quaint community.”

Inouye said her committee hopes that the developer will not move the project forward without continuing to hear from the community and considering alterations.

Resident Marcia Hanscom, co-director of Playa del Rey-based Ballona Institute, said the atmosphere of the small beach town is what attracted her there and she hopes that future projects are “within the character of what’s here.”

Cheryl Burnett, a resident and member of the Neighborhood Council of Westchester-Playa, said the community should not consider the developer’s projects separately but address what potential cumulative impacts they could have on the area.

“We need to look at all three projects and understand what their cumulative impact will be,” Burnett said. “We need to be thinking creatively and innovatively about what we want our community to become and we need to be looking at these projects as one.”

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