A developer reimagines Marina Marketplace as a residential and retail campus with 658 apartments, but density and traffic are of major concern

By Gary Walker

A conceptual rendering of Paseo Marina, as seen from the corner of Maxella and Glencoe avenues
TCA Architects image courtesy of Sares-Regis

There was a time when you could drive through Del Rey and never realize it. Often mistaken for part of Marina del Rey to the west or Mar Vista to the north, this largely residential enclave has more recently forged its identity as a quiet  neighborhood spared much of the pains of density increases around it.

But that soon could change, albeit due to growth under the marina moniker.

Irvine-based developer the Sares-Regis Group is planning a complete buildout of the 6.8-acre Marina Marketplace that would create hundreds of new apartments south of Glencoe Avenue and west of Maxella Avenue in as little as five years.

Preliminary design concepts for what’s being called Paseo Marina would feature three new seven-story buildings containing 658 apartments (66 of them set aside as affordable housing) and 27,320 square feet of ground-floor retail space, with un-
derground parking for 1,200 cars, according to city Planning Department records.

The project footprint would not impact the existing Pavilions grocery store or other businesses in the southeastern portion of the current shopping center, including J Nichols Kitchen and Jerry’s Famous Deli. The multilevel shopping center north of Glencoe also won’t be touched.

On June 15, Kristen Lonner of the planning and government affairs firm Burns & Bouchard made an informal presentation of the project to the Del Rey Neighborhood Council Land Use and Planning Committee on behalf of Sares-Regis. The blog urbanize.la posted a story and renderings that same week.

Lonner told The Argonaut that Sares-Regis hopes to take the underutilized shopping center and “reimagine it as the heart of Del Rey,” continuing the evolution from light industrial to residential that’s already taken place along Glencoe, Maxella and Beach avenues.

“Del Rey has seen a lot of change over the years, and one thing that we’ve heard is they want a more walkable community with better bike access,” Lonner said. “The idea has always been that this is a great transition site and, because of its size, it can accomplish some of the goals of the community.”

Paseo Marina, which is only beginning the city’s and California Coastal Commission’s lengthy entitlement processes, would require several zoning changes but is not the only plan to envision more residential and commercial capacity in Del Rey.

The developer of the 244-unit Stella Apartments at 13488 Maxella Ave., adjacent to Marina Marketplace, is seeking to expand the complex with 65 more housing units and 9,000 additional square feet of commercial space.

Both new developments could put a lot of pressure on the already congested intersection of Lincoln Boulevard and Maxella, just north of the Marina (90) Freeway.

Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin, whose district includes Del Rey, says he is in favor of more housing in the area — but not to the degree that Paseo Marina hopes to create.

“I’m not opposed to housing there, but I am opposed to [nearly] 700 units. Right now I don’t think they’re anywhere in the ballpark of what I can support,” said Bonin, who rejected a project of similar scope brought by a different developer about three years ago.

Del Rey resident Denise Petrulis is worried that several hundred new residents and an unknown increase in area automobile trips will further clog already heavily burdened arterial roadways.

“I am opposed to this change because the current infrastructure is already insufficient to support the number of residents and related volume of traffic and utility usage in this area. Increasing the number of residents in this small area will likely make this entire area unpassable during peak hours,” Petrulis, who also objects to the project’s seven-story height, wrote in a letter to the Del Rey Neighborhood Council Land Use and Planning Committee.

Lonner said Sares-Regis recognizes the potential impacts on the surrounding area and agrees that traffic studies, part of a broader environmental review of the project, will receive a great deal of attention.

“There’s no question that pedestrian access, transportation and circulation will be critical aspects of the project. And this [analysis] will give us an opportunity to look at some of these intersections through a traffic study,” Lonner said.

Bonin said community input, particularly from the neighborhood council and Del Rey Residents Association, will be critical in making his final decision.

Lonner estimates the environmental analysis of the Paseo Marina plans will take between a year and 18 months to complete.