Long-awaited anchor of Pier 44 redevelopment opens Friday

Story by Gary Walker | Photos by Maria Martin

Marina del Rey store captain Terrence Higa and his crew are stocking shelves in anticipation of massive crowds

More than four years after word spread like wildfire that Trader Joe’s may be coming to Marina del Rey, the popular specialty grocer will open a waterside location at the corner of Admiralty and Mindanao ways on Friday. The 13,000-square-foot store is set to open at 9 a.m. with a welcoming party and ribbon cutting, followed by food demonstrations, raffles and assorted giveaways.

The first business to open as part of the ongoing redevelopment of the 10-acre Pier 44 complex, Trader Joe’s now anchors one of Marina del Rey’s most desirable parcels, practically adjacent to Burton Chace Park and catty corner to the popular Ralph’s grocery store in Waterside at Marina del Rey.

A parking lot that opens to Mindanao can accommodate 100 vehicles, but the store is also accessible by the existing Marina del Rey bike path and several boat slips designated for shoppers will become operational in the coming weeks.

Anticipation of the grand opening has been extremely high. Over a span of about 45 minutes on Tuesday, more than a dozen people approached the store on foot to ask store captain Terrence Higa if it was open yet. “We’re so excited. We can’t wait!” one woman exclaimed.

Inside the new Trader Joe’s, customers will find walls decorated with murals featuring local landmarks such as Fisherman’s Village and Marina “Mother’s” Beach, plus other designs representing local yacht clubs and various nautical themes.

“We wanted to create a neighborhood grocery store that really has a neighborhood feel,” said Higa, who has been with Trader Joe’s for 35 years and arrives from the West L.A. location near Mar Vista.

The Marina Trader Joe’s will employ about 80 people — many of them recent and local hires, Higa said.

Once completed, the new Pier 44 will also include an 8,000-square-foot restaurant space, a new location for the West Marine boating supplies store, a new home and dry dock storage for the South Coast Corinthian Yacht Club, a room for hosting community meetings, a boaters’ lounge with restrooms and showers, a boat repair shop and boat
sales offices.

The development aligns with the long-range Marina del Rey Visioning Statement adopted by county planners in 2014, which prescribes residential, hotel, retail and recreational activity hubs interconnected by various modes of alternative transportation such as water taxis, the bike path and a continuous waterfront pedestrian promenade.

Expect to encounter big crowds flocking to the new store on Friday and throughout the weekend — meaning alternative transportation is likely a good idea. But however customers arrive, said Trader Joe’s spokesperson Kenya Friend-Daniels, “we just want them to know that they’re welcome.”