By Gary Walker
Amid a shortage of rental housing and few undeveloped parcels in West Los Angeles on which to build it, one development company has its sights on an unexpected place: the peninsula that juts out between the confluence of Ballona and Centinela creeks, directly south of the Marina (90) Freeway.
Currently the location is an isolated space occupied by a pair of metal shipping containers and several homeless encampments. Beethoven LLC has submitted plans to the city and an environmental review for what they’re calling Del Rey Pointe — a six-story, 236-unit apartment complex with natural preserves and a linear park along its perimeter.
Vehicles and pedestrians would access the property via a new bridge connecting the peninsula to Playa Vista at the Beethoven Street cul-de-sac near Westside Neighborhood School, following the path of a defunct Pacific Electric Railway bridge that once brought the Red Car across the creek. Residents would also be able to access the Ballona Creek Bike Path to the north via a private pedestrian and bicycle crossing.
Beethoven LLC land-use consultant Athena Novak said Del Rey Pointe has long been a “work in progress” because of its atypical surroundings.
“It has some interesting elements to it,” she said. “We’re building it in this location because we feel that it’s a better use abutting two waterways.”
Novak doesn’t expect Del Rey Pointe to be marketed specifically to employees of Playa Vista tech companies, but the proximity of the project would make it especially attractive for them.
“They would be within walking distance of Silicon Beach,” she said. “It would be organic for workers in these industries to seek employment where they live.”
Beethoven LLC is asking for several city planning amendments to build housing on the peninsula, including two major zoning changes from light industrial to residential, as well as approval for a private street bridging Ballona and Centinela creeks.
According to city planning documents, the environmental analysis in the project’s initial study shows “potentially significant effects on the environment, but these potential effects may be reduced to less than significant effects by project revisions in the form of mitigation.”
Novak said the developer is requesting an “expanded” mitigated negative declaration in lieu of a full environmental impact report, a process that could be both time-consuming and costly.
Officials with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, which supervises the adjacent Ballona Wetlands Ecological Preserve, said the agency is aware of the project and might weigh in on the environmental analysis at a later date.
Advocates for the Ballona Wetlands have concerns about the project because a variety of bird species frequent the peninsula.
“This parcel area is what most of the environmental groups who share concerns about the Ballona region call ‘Bird Island,” Marcia Hanscom of the Ballona Institute said. “This parcel was one of the ones that we all agreed needed to be protected.”
“This is a birthing hotspot and a favorite for many of our birders,” acknowledged Friends of the Ballona Wetlands Executive Director Scott Culbertson, noting however that the group has not taken a position on the project.