Rising 31 stories above the landscape near Marina del Rey, a proposed development on Lincoln Boulevard promises to offer a mix of residential and retail uses, as well as an affordable housing component.

But area residents see the project being overshadowed by its excessive height and potential to impact traffic along a corridor that is already heavily congested.

Santa Monica-based MDR Tower, LLC has proposed to construct a mixed-use retail and condominium project consisting of 158 residential units and 3,178 square feet of retail space at 4363 Lincoln Blvd., near the entrance to the Marina Freeway (State Route 90). The project, dubbed the “Marina del Rey Tower,” reaches a maximum height of 366 feet in the Oxford Triangle area, a City of Los Angeles neighborhood in Venice near Marina del Rey.

The condominium units range in size from 1,100 to 1,900 square feet, with 13 percent of the units being designated as affordable to very-low-income households. Parking would be provided with 408 spaces in a six-level above-ground structure.

The proposal would also provide 53,736 square feet of open space, including over 35,000 square feet of private open space, and would seek Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.

Project developers say the tower, which would replace the Beverly Hills Rent-A-Car facility on the site, would provide needed housing to the area and enhance the pedestrian experience along Lincoln Boulevard. The developer is currently in escrow to purchase the property.

“We believe this project will replace a deteriorating auto-related structure with a beautiful mixed-use development,” said Dale Goldsmith, an attorney representing the developer. “This is a significant project and it will serve as a gateway to Venice.”

A draft environmental impact report (EIR) has been prepared for the tower project and the public may submit comments on the report until Friday, February 1st. The comments will be incorporated into the final project EIR.

Among the various comments made by residents in communities surrounding the proposed site are concerns particularly with the tower’s size and potential to draw even more traffic to the area.

Resident Steve Freedman called the proposal egregious, pointing out that the “monstrous” residential tower would be nearly twice as big as the closest buildings in the area and could be seen from miles away.

“Whatever Venice may need, it’s not more condos in this particular area,” said Freedman, who spoke at a Venice Neighborhood Council Land Use and Planning Committee meeting on the draft EIR Wednesday, January 23rd.

Other residents at the meeting claimed that the design rendering of the tower did not give an accurate view of the project’s scale in comparison to nearby buildings.

“This picture does not represent a fair view of this structure,” said former Venice Neighborhood Council president DeDe Audet, pointing to the rendering.

The project’s height has also drawn the attention of Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who said he has opposed the tower since it was first presented last year.

“The constituents have spoken loud and clear and they are in opposition to it as presented,” Rosendahl said of the proposal. “This particular structure is too big and it makes no sense.”

Goldsmith acknowledged that the tower is a “tall project,” but noted that the architect believed that a taller, thinner project would have less impact and be more pleasing than a smaller, wider project.

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” Goldsmith said.

Aside from the 31-story height, a major issue of contention in the community has been the project’s impact on traffic. Rosendahl noted that the stretch of Lincoln Boulevard where the tower would be is congested throughout the day and said that another major development should not be added until there is mass transit in the area.

“This segment of Lincoln is in gridlock at most hours of the day and I’m concerned about having any additional traffic-inducing development until we’re sure that mass transit will serve this corridor,” Rosendahl said.

A traffic analysis concluded that the project would not have any significant traffic impacts, as it would create an additional 47 trips during the morning rush hour and 71 trips in the evening rush hour, Goldsmith said.

Former Venice Neighborhood Council Land Use and Planning Committee member Phil Raider called the traffic report’s findings “science fiction.”

“It’s difficult to impact streets that are already gridlocked,” Raider said at the committee meeting.

Goldsmith said the developers understand there are concerns related to traffic but they plan to work with Rosendahl’s office to explore regional traffic solutions, such as light rail.

Other residents at the meeting said the tower project re-emphasizes the need for a moratorium on commercial construction along Lincoln, a proposal that was supported by the Venice Neighborhood Council last year.

“The only way to do this is to have a building moratorium,” resident Laurie LeBoy said.

Raider, who was on the land use committee at the time it recommended the development moratorium, said the tower is the “perfect example of the type of development that I was referring to when I advanced that proposal.”

“This is another example of a developer-driven land speculation that illustrates that in the City of Los Angeles, a piece of property is not valued by what its zoning is, but by what its zoning could be,” Raider said.

Goldsmith said the developer will consider all of the public comments very carefully and plans to work with the community to make a better project.

Comments on the draft EIR may be sent in writing until Friday, February 1st, to the City of Los Angeles Department of City Planning, attn: David Somers, 200 N. Spring St., Room 750, Los Angeles 90012.

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