Hotel, environmental education center and waterfront promenade factor into overhaul plan
By Gary Walker
A five-story hotel, a 30-foot waterfront promenade, a children’s playground and an environmental education center in place of the familiar decorative lighthouse are among the new attractions proposed for a ground-up remake of Fisherman’s Village.
Gold Coast Village LLC, the leaseholders in control of the 1.2-acre recreational and retail center on Fiji Way, unveiled conceptual renderings of its proposed remodel during a meeting of the Small Craft Harbors Commission on May 13.
The overhaul would accommodate an assortment of high-end retail stores and restaurants, a food court with a rooftop beer garden and attached parking garage, plus expanded bicycle and boating access.
“The conceptual plan, although in the early stages, will place an emphasis on sustainable practices and hopes to reposition Fisherman’s Village into a world-class destination that represents the best of Marina del Rey,” said Alan Pullman, senior principal of Studio One Eleven, the project’s architectural firm. “We are committed to developing a plan which meets the needs of the Marina del Rey community, focused on an inclusive visitor-centric experience.”
Fisherman’s Village currently has about 500 parking spaces. The remodel calls for 1,166 public parking stalls and 381 spaces dedicated for the hotel.
Located on the east end of the parcel, the hotel would offer 161 rooms, a restaurant and a community room that local organizations could use free of charge.
The height of the food court and parking garage on the parcel’s west side would be staggered between 33 and 44 feet.
The park-like waterfront promenade would stretch along the middle of the parcel between the water and a three-story structure with roughly 31,000 square feet of restaurant or retail space and the 5,400-square-foot environmental education center, which could feature an aquarium.
Boat docks and slips for large and small craft continue to line the waterfront.
“Waterfront activities are a key component of this project,” Pullman said.
FantaSea Yachts owner Daniel Ginsberg said the proposed remodel was “very impressive” but remained adamant that Fisherman’s Village retain its charter docks and corresponding parking.
Others mourned the loss of its quaint original structures, including the lighthouse.
“I’d hate to see it go,” said Marina del Rey resident Gene Pomerantz, who spoke fondly of attending weekend outdoor concerts at Fisherman’s Village. “It’s an iconic place.”
“Fisherman’s Village is probably the only thing left that was part of the original Marina del Rey,” said P.J. Garcia, owner of the Indy Plush sustainable clothing and toy store in Fisherman’s Village.
Last year Garcia circulated a petition against remodeling Fisherman’s Village that garnered 500 signatures.
Others, including Los Angeles County officials, argue Fisherman’s Village is underutilized and outdated.
“We hear a lot of ‘When are they going to do something with Fisherman’s Village?’ So I absolutely believe that if this project moves forward it will actually generate more tourism and economic activity in Marina del Rey,” said Janet Zaldua, executive director of the Marina del Rey Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Michael Pashaie, one of the owners of Gold Coast Village LLC, said he appreciated nostalgia for keeping elements of the original Fisherman’s Village intact.
“I had my bachelor party there and bought my wife her first gift there before we bought the property. But unfortunately, as far as some of the building being replaced, they are kind of dilapidated and many of these structures are not safe. They were built during a time when there weren’t many seismic codes so we need to replace them,” he said.
Pashaie said he’d consider putting the lighthouse back on the table but cautioned that building a non-functioning lighthouse caries regulatory complications.
Garcia questioned the fates of Fisherman’s Village merchants, broaching the topic publicly for perhaps the first time.
Commission member Vanessa Delgado asked Pashaie during the meeting if anything could be done to help existing tenants survive the construction phase (estimated at more than two years) and find a home in the renovated Fisherman’s Village.
“When the project is finished, we’d welcome [existing merchants] back, and we’re going to give them a lower rent than market rate to try and get them reestablished again. It will be on a case-by-case basis,” Pashaie said after the meeting.
Adrienne Spellman, who opened the natural skin care Jaden Moon at Fisherman’s Village last year, welcomed Delgado’s suggestion.
“To expect us to pay the same rent as some of the large stores is unreasonable,” Spellman said.