Brand-new boat service center, yacht club, West Marine store and restaurant also part of 13-acre plan

By Gary Walker

A rendering depicts a seaside Trader Joe’s in Marina del Rey

A rendering depicts a seaside Trader Joe’s in Marina del Rey

Plans to demolish Marina del Rey’s existing Pier 44 boat service center and build a 13-acre waterfront retail-and-recreation complex moved one step closer to becoming reality during a county hearing last week.

On Admiralty Way between Bali and Mindanao ways, Pier 44 currently includes harbor boat slips and boat sales, maintenance and dry dock storage facilities.

Project developer Pacific Marina Ventures LLC envisions seven new buildings on the site, including a waterside Trader Joe’s specialty grocery store, a new location for the West Marine boating supplies store, an 8,000-square-foot restaurant space, a new home and dry dock storage for the South Coast Corinthian Yacht Club, a boaters’ lounge with restrooms and showers, a boat repair shop, boat sales offices and a room for hosting community meetings — all linked together by a pedestrian promenade.

Aaron Clark, the land-use consultant representing Pacific Marina Ventures, said county planners are now developing their final environmental review of the proposal, with its planned 4.68 acres of waterfront development having already cleared the California Coastal Commission approvals process.

While waterfront restaurants are commonplace in the marina, a seaside grocery store certainly isn’t. But Clark said being on the water would be among the new Trader Joe’s most attractive features, especially for recreational boaters.

“Folks will be able to pull their boats up to the dock or come by water taxi and shop if they like,” said Clark, who works for the Brentwood law firm Armbruster, Goldsmith & Delvac.

Pacific Marina Ventures, he said, will begin soliciting additional retail and restaurant tenants after the project is approved.

“We’re looking for a high-quality restaurant to go in there. We imagine that the market will be anxious to fill the space,” Clark said.

South Coast Corinthian Yacht Club Commodore Trevor Bazeley said the organization’s board has been in talks with the developer about construction of a two-story building that will house a kitchen, dining area and bar as well as boat storage for club members.

“We’ve seen the drawings for the new facility, and now we’re just waiting for the next steps,” Bazeley said.

Jon Nahhas, a vocal critic of county redevelopment plans for Marina del Rey, distributed a set of talking points before the March 4 hearing at the Marina del Rey Hotel that argued the project would bottle up traffic at Mindanao — a vital public thruway into the marina — and hinder community access to nearby Burton Chase Park.

Clark acknowledged that there would likely be traffic delays and congestion during construction but said the developers will pay $2.3 million in county traffic mitigation fees.

“That is the highest fee for any developer in Marina del Rey to date,” Clark said. “I’m not saying that it will be a panacea for traffic in Marina del Rey, but it is a great expense by the developer to help mitigate local and regional traffic. There will be careful attention paid to traffic mitigation.”

Beth Holden-Garland, a resident of the marina’s Silver Strand, said she believes there’s already too much development occurring all at once in the harbor.

“I’ve been to so many of these meetings, and it seems to me like no matter what we say it will have no impact on our elected officials. Our collective concern is about the trees in the [Marina del Rey] area marked for removal and how they are an important habitat for birds in the area — including the great blue heron, egrets and black crowned night herons, among others,” Holden-Garland said. “Also, there are [already] two Ralphs, a Gelson’s and a Pavilions in Marina del Rey. Do we really need a Trader Joe’s?”

The plans must still pass through the county’s Regional Planning Commission, but Clark said the L.A. County Board of Supervisors won’t be required to review them unless there are appeals to the environmental review process.