Conceptual drawings will debut Wednesday at a public meeting in Marina del Rey
By Gary Walker
The leaseholder for Marina del Rey’s iconic Fisherman’s Village is expected on Wednesday to unveil early conceptual drawings that contemplate a significant makeover of the waterfront retail and recreation destination.
Gold Coast Village LLC, the lessee developing the 1.2-acre parcel at 13755 Fiji Way, is slated to present the renderings during a 10 a.m. meeting of the Los Angeles County Small Craft Harbors Commission at the Burton Chace Park Community Room.
Aaron Clark, a land use consultant representing Gold Coast Village, spoke largely in generalities about the proposed makeover because concepts are still evolving. But Clark said he believes the public will be happy about many elements of the plan.
“I think it will be very exciting for the community. [Fisherman’s Village] doesn’t presently have any real connection to the water, and that is something that we took very seriously in this proposal,” Clark said. “The type of environment that they’re creating is something that you won’t find elsewhere in Los Angeles County.”
In addition to better integrating waterfront activities with the outdoor mall area, Gold Coast Village is considering more “high-quality” retail shops, new restaurants and even a hotel, Clark said.
Fisherman’s Village is an integral part of Los Angeles County’s redevelopment “visioning” plan for Marina del Rey, but public officials say it would need upgrades to keep pace with future development.
While it remains a weekend recreational destination and a launching point for boat rentals and harbor cruises, county officials consider Fisherman’s Village outdated and underutilized.
“Fisherman’s Village should be the No. 1 visitors spot in the marina,” said Small Craft Harbors Commissioner Russell Lesser. “I think the whole world is in agreement that something needs to be done there.”
Members of the Small Craft Harbors Commission and the county’s Design Control Board reviewed a remodeling proposal by Beverly Hills architects Jack Hollander & Associates last year, but the firm is no longer involved with the project and Gold Coast Village is instead working with Long Beach-based architects Studio One Eleven.
“I’m going to reserve judgment until I see the new designs, but what I’ve seen so far is a good start,” Lesser said.
Last year’s renderings integrated Fisherman Village’s iconic New England-style lighthouse into the new design, but Clark said no decision has been made about the lighthouse for the current proposal.
At this time last year, the future of Fisherman’s Village was uncertain at best. County officials were proposing to relocate the public launch on Fiji Way to the Fisherman’s Village parcel, which would have meant demolishing Fisherman’s Village and rebuilding something like it in place of the boat launch.
L.A. County Supervisor Don Knabe intervened to scrub that proposal last May following a flurry of public opposition. He declined to comment about current plans coming before the Small Craft Harbors Commission.
Michael Leneman, owner of the boat design shop and brokerage Multi Marine on Abbot Kinney Boulevard, was among the most vocal opponents of moving the boat launch.
Leneman said that after the meeting last May he toured Fisherman’s Village with a member of the Pashaie family (one of two families who lease the Fisherman’s Village parcel from the county) and suggested incorporating a stand up paddleboard dock into any new design.
“There are a lot of people who use paddleboards in the marina, and it would give people in the marina with small boats somewhere to go. They could come to [Fisherman’s Village] to shop without using a car,” said Leneman.
Leneman disagrees with redevelopment opponents who say the quaint and brightly painted wooden buildings of Fisherman’s Village should remain in place as a matter of historic preservation.
“There’s nothing California or significant about that kind of architecture,” he said.