No one has witnessed the evolution of Marina del Rey quite like Jerry Epstein, the only original harbor lessee-developer still active here
In 1955 marina founding father Burton W. Chace tapped Epstein, then a young real estate developer finding his feet on the West Coast, to help with the harbor’s initial feasibility study and master plan. When the not-yet-finished harbor was nearly wiped out by a storm surge in January 1963, Epstein lobbied Congress to fund a protective breakwater. He later opened Del Rey Shores, a legacy he would tear down in 2011 and replace with the $165-million, 544-unit Shores apartment complex on Via Marina.
Epstein has passed on this evolving legacy to cousin David O. Levine, his longtime chief of staff and current president of the Marina del Rey Lessees Association. Levine first arrived in Marina del Rey for a Christmas visit in 1964, when he was just nine years old.
“Jerry took my family and me out to this empty piece of land and told us that one day it would be a beautiful and very special place—the largest manmade small-craft harbor in the world,” Levine recalled.
And so it was. Levine and his wife moved into Del Rey Shores in 1981, and he later found himself playing an integral role in Epstein’s vision there and for the Marina Harbor Apartments and Anchorage.
“One of the fundamental rules of real estate investment is that you shouldn’t fall in love with a property. Well, I fell in love with my projects in the marina and I’ve been here ever since,” Epstein said.
Like Epstein, Levine remains focused on modernizing the marina and increasing amenities for residents and visitors.
“My own personal bucket list includes a zip-line attraction over the water,” Levine said.
— Joe Piasecki