New managers of Runway at Playa Vista begin talks to take over lease from Pier 44 redeveloper

By Gary Walker

Fisherman’s Village has been an iconic part of the Marina del Rey landscape since the early
Courtesy of Marina del Rey Historical Society

With its signature blue-and-white lighthouse and quaint New England-style theme, Fisherman’s Village has been an icon of Marina del Rey since opening in the early 1970s. For more than a decade, the waterfront outdoor mall has clearly also been in need of a facelift.

Plans to redevelop the 32,500-square-foot parcel have come and gone as major construction projects continue to reshape the harbor, but now a potential change of leaseholder could be a catalyst for redevelopment.

DJM Capital Partners — the commercial property management firm hired last year to revitalize the Runway at Playa Vista retail, entertainment and residential complex on Jefferson Boulevard — is currently in talks with the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches Harbors to assume the lease for Fisherman’s Village, both parties have confirmed.

Pacific Coast Management LLC, whose lease on the parcel extends to 2027, is currently completing its ambitious redevelopment of the Pier 44 complex on Admiralty Way, which includes the already bustling Trader Joe’s. About to become involved in both a significant renovation of a Washington Boulevard strip mall and a proposed retail-and-housing project at Washington and Dell Avenue, the firm is now ready to hand off control of Fisherman’s Village, developer representative Aaron Clark said.

“They have a tremendous amount on their plate,” Clark explained, adding that managing partner Michael Pashaie believes DJM is the right fit for Fisherman’s Village. “They’re the best qualified firm to take on the parcel,” he said. “They’ve shown that they are able to navigate these types of troubled waters.”

In an exclusive with The Argonaut, DJM Capital Partners President Lindsay Parton confirmed that his firm is interested in redeveloping Fisherman’s Village.

“We’ve spent over a year and a half navigating the process of what it would take to fix Fisherman’s Village. It’s a rather complicated situation with this particular lease assignment, so it’s still probably a few months away,” Parton said. “We think it’s a tremendous opportunity to redevelop or repurpose a really underserved part of Los Angeles and Marina del Rey.”

The restaurant and bar Whiskey Red’s, in the western corner of Fisherman’s Village, would be included in the new leasehold.

In addition to Runway, DJM’s management portfolio includes the Bella Terra and Pacific City complexes in Huntington Beach and Lido Marina Village in Newport Beach. Parton said it is very early to discuss new design concepts for Fisherman’s Village, but noted similarities between that parcel and casual-but-upscale nautical theme of Lido Marina Village.

“The area where Lido Village is now was also sort of rundown. We renovated the buildings that were there and now we have a very exciting project with highly curated shops and restaurants. We feel like we have a great touch with this type of redevelopment, and we thought [Fisherman’s Village] could be a similar opportunity to repurpose or reposition a site that really needs attention,” Parton said.

Marina del Rey Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Janet Zaldua said Fisherman’s Village is ripe for rejuvenation as new hotels and residential developments come online in the marina. What would she hope to see?

“Maybe a boutique hotel, but really anything that brings public access to the water. Anything that brings more energy and life to the area,” Zaldua said. “A thriving Fisherman’s Village would also stimulate economic impact. With a hotel and a prime view of the water, we could attract tourists who might otherwise stay in a hotel near LAX to come to Marina del Rey instead for a ‘playover’ with all of our amenities and activities. That could be a real game-changer.”

Marina Lessees Association President David Levine said Fisherman’s Village has been in stasis for far too long.

“Everyone who cares about and loves Marina del Rey has been anxiously awaiting the redevelopment of Fisherman’s Village for two decades. We hope that an exciting visitor-serving, focused redevelop plan can be agreed upon and moved forward as quickly as possible,” Levine said.

Parton said a new lease deal could come before the L.A. County Small Craft Harbors Commission for review as early as this autumn.

“But before we do anything,” he said, “we plan to do extensive outreach to the community.”