Revised plans for a mixed-use project called The Waterfront that would replace the Harbor House and Edie’s Diner restaurants and a county parking lot at Admiralty and Palawan Ways in Marina del Rey was unveiled during a meeting last week of the Westchester/ LAX-Marina del Rey Chamber of Commerce Marina Affairs Committee.
EMC Development Company, headed by Edward M. Czuker, is seeking to develop the site into 292 residential units and 34,300 square feet of restaurant and retail space, which would include a 13,000-square-foot Trader Joe’s market on the far eastern portion of the parcel, about where the present Edie’s Diner is.
The restaurants would be about 10,000 square feet each, Czuker said.
The Admiralty Way side of the project would be as high as 65 feet — a reduction of more than 35 feet from original plans for the project.
The revised plan also eliminates office space from the project, allowing more retail space.
“EMC Development is looking to attract high-end restaurants like P.F. Chang’s and Houston’s to The Waterfront and has a letter of intent from specialty market Trader Joe’s, which would be opening its first market in the Marina at The Waterfront,” a spokesman for the project said.
COUNTY RFP — In April 2003, the county issued a “request for proposal” (RFP) for redevelopment of the site.
The county RFP included a required “mixed-use” element that included either hotel rooms or residential units — even though neither is allowed in the present Marina del Rey Local Coastal Program (LCP) for the site.
At the same time that the county was issuing an RFP for the Harbor House-Edie’s Diner parcel, the county was issuing other RFPs for development of a county parking lot at Admiralty Way and Via Marina, where a Marriott Residence Inn is planned, and for redevelopment of the parcel containing the Foghorn Harbor Inn and The Cheesecake Factory.
Both of those RFPs also required development of hotel rooms or residential units — and, again, require amendments to the Marina LCP before developers that responded and were selected by the county could begin their proposed development and redevelopment.
EMC was one of four firms that responded to the county RFP for redevelopment of the Harbor House and Edie’s Diner restaurants site and chose to include residential units, rather than more hotel rooms.
The county chose EMC and The Waterfront project in November 2003.
The county will now have to seek an amendment of its Marina LCP from the California Coastal Commission before the EMC project can be developed.
NEW EMC PLAN — EMC participated in various public meetings regarding its original plan and received considerable criticism regarding the height, density and such specific items as parking in the original plans.
During the spring of 2005, EMC hired a new architect, Nadel Architects of West Los Angeles, to redesign the project — largely in response, EMC spokesmen say, to public input on the original plan.
Last week, Czuker told the chamber members at the Marina Affairs Committee meeting that the present county parking lot, which will be included in EMC plans, includes 191 parking spaces.
Those 191 parking spaces will be replaced “within the project,” Czuker said.
The “project as well will provide parking for all of the uses on the site,” Czucker added.
But some chamber members questioned how the required parking for Trader Joe’s alone could be found on the site and they scoffed at suggestions that Trader Joe’s shoppers who live nearby on the west side of the Marina would not need parking because they would “carry their bags of groceries home.”
PUBLIC PROMENADE — Czuker emphasized the public promenade that is planned with his project and he said that he hoped the waterfront promenade could extend eastward through the Marina City Club parcel.
He said that a large public observation plaza, planned on top of his northern building, and the many restaurants planned on the ground floor of his project would also help add a “sense of place” to the Marina.
He said the restaurants are designed not only for residents of the Marina but to create “destination restaurants” that would draw visitors to the Marina.
Czuker noted that the public observation area has been lowered considerably from the 150-foot, eight-story tower that was envisioned in the original plan.
At Admiralty and Palawan Ways, the corner of the Czuker building has been designed to create a 20-foot open view corridor from Admiralty Way to the Marina waterfront.
DESIGN CALLED “EDGY” — Dale Yonkin, architect and executive vice president of Nadel Architects, Inc. called the new design for The Waterfront “a little bit edgy.”
Yonkin admitted that some of the Marina is getting a bit “stodgy” and what the Marina needs is a new, fresh look.
“More and more people in California have become attuned to living above stores,” Yonkin said, “as opposed to 30 years ago, when we wanted to live in the hills.”
“Special environments like Santa Monica and Marina del Rey are perfectly attuned to have (these) special lifestyles,” he said. “You are participating in a big-city lifestyle.
“The people who want to live here and participate in this will live here.”
Yonkin admitted that he doesn’t think the Mediterranean style of architecture “belongs on the water” in the Marina anymore.
NEXT? — The Waterfront’s new project will require submission to the County Marina del Rey Design Control Board, where a public hearing will be held, offering the opportunity for public comment.
The project must also be submitted to the County Small Craft Harbor Commission, where another public hearing will be held, again giving the public an opportunity for public input.
The project requires a coastal permit from the California Coastal Commission, where another public hearing would be held, offering the public still further opportunity for public input.
Because the project requires an amendment to the Marina LCP, the county must submit such an amendment to the coastal commission, where a public hearing is also required.
The county may choose to submit local coastal plan amendments for each of the three projects that require such amendments or the county may com- bine the required LCP amendment process into one request that includes all three.
County officials say they have not yet decided which process to follow.