The Waterfront Marina del Rey, LLC project is one of three heard by the Marina del Rey Design Control Board at its meeting Thursday, August 28th, at the Burton Chace Park Community Building in Marina del Rey.
Consideration of the project — on Parcels 33/NR at 4211 Admiralty Way, at Palawan Way in Marina del Rey — was continued to the Design Control Board’s October meeting.
The project submittal represents a revised version of a concept plan presented during an August 2004 Design Control Board meeting, where conceptual approval for the project was given, but chair Susan Cloke said that because this design project has not been seen before by her and the other current board members, it is considered new business.
Cloke said the applicant, EMC Development, LLC “is asking for a lot from the Marina community and giving nothing back, and the question is, what does the project bring to benefit Marina residents? […] I see nothing other than an impact on residents.”
The project would require an amendment to the Marina del Rey Local Coastal Program (LCP) for both parcels, since there would be land use changes for the residential aspect of the project and the height of the buildings would go above the current 45-foot height limitation.
“Forty-five feet is plenty high, and you have great opportunities for views,” Cloke said.
She also recommended that the applicant get into a dialogue with local sailors and boating associations — who expressed concerns about the massive project during public comment — and suggested that the applicant provide room for public comment on the applicant’s proposed Web site for the project. (The Web site will be set up at a future date.)
Cloke advised the applicant to “really be part of the Marina, to capture and further the uniqueness,” and said that the applicant “has a lot of work to do and needs input from the community as well as looking at moving from a generic design mapping to the Burton Chace Park planning that is under way.”
The Burton Chace Park plan is available on the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors Web site, http:// beaches.co.la.ca.us/.
The previous concept consisted of a mixed-use development project, which included 292 apartments dispersed in four-story, low-rise structures of 45 feet each and an eight-story, mid-rise structure with a maximum height of 81 feet; approximately 81,000 square feet of commercial space, including retail, restaurants, offices and service offices; approximately 10,000 square feet of rooftop recreation and observation space; and 820 parking spaces along pedestrian plazas, gallerias and promenade improvements.
The following project description is derived from county documentation.
The current proposed mixed-use concept would consist of 292 apartment units and roughly 45,000 square feet of ground-level restaurant and retail space, including a 13,000-square-foot grocery store, an 11,000-square-foot drug store and 773 parking spaces, of which 69 spaces would be reserved for visitors to Marina Beach.
These uses would be distributed throughout three buildings, each of which would have a maximum height of 65 feet above street grade and 71 feet above promenade grade.
The proposed number of units remains unchanged from the previous presentation. The apartment units would be distributed as follows:
— Building A (on Parcel 33 along Admiralty Way) would be comprised of three stories of apartments above three stories of above-grade parking, ground-level visitor-serving commercial and one underground parking level;
— Buildings B and C (on Parcel NR along Palawan Way) would be comprised of five stories of apartments above one level of parking, ground-level visitor-serving commercial and one underground parking level.
The development would include roughly 45,000 square feet of visitor-serving commercial, including three restaurants and three retail facilities, said Derek Jones, vice president of EMC Corporation, LLC.
All commercial space would be available throughout the ground floor of Buildings A, B and C above one underground parking level. The proposed square footage would be substantially less than the initial plan of 81,000 square feet, which consisted of office and live-work components that have now been removed, said Jones.
The public rooftop view deck would keep the proposed 5,000-square-foot rooftop public observation deck.
The proposed building design has access to water views, sunlight and ocean breezes for residents and visitors alike, said Jones. The architectural plans and renderings depict four views, each with a pedestrian-access point from Admiralty Way to Palawan Way to the proposed 28-foot-wide waterfront promenade.
A total open area of 30,431 square feet, or 21 percent of the combined parcel area, has been reserved for view corridors and public access, Jones said.
Additional modifications include an increase in the Waterfront Promenade parallel to Palawan Way from 20 to 28 feet:
— breaks in the mass of Buildings B and C, which include two 40-foot-wide courtyards and a motor court separating both buildings;
— a glass-enclosed elevator to service the public rooftop observation deck of Building A; and
— green building techniques, such as 40,000 square feet of rooftop photovoltaic solar panels, which may produce up to one-half of the total energy demand associated with the proposed mixed-use project, said Jones.
Cloke suggested bringing one or two of the restaurants to the roof, and moving residents to a lower level, saying that perhaps residents would like to walk out the door and step onto the beach.
She also recommended that the applicant look into providing a public shuttle or alternative transport Marina-wide and the addition of a running track or fitness building that could be utilized by everyone.
Design Control Board member Simon Pastucha said the massing of the buildings and view corridors created a problem, and suggested the applicant work with his team and the county.
“It’s hard to look at this project without an EIR [environmental impact report],” said Pastucha.
Cloke said the real difficulty with such proposals is that the applicant responds to an RFP (Request for Proposal) by the county, and the lease negotiations are done in private, so that the applicant has worked with county staff for a year or two before even coming to a meeting of the Design Control Board, and then is shocked by the requirements it is faced with.
“If we had comprehensive planning, you wouldn’t have to invent yourself,” Cloke told Jones.
Mothers Beach and Burton Chace Park are the densest public use areas and Mothers Beach always has dense usage on the beach and in the water, said Cloke.
“We give our best judgment if it is a good project and the current presentation is not a good one,” Cloke said. “You can take what you’ve heard and come back.”
During public comment, Steven Cho, president of the Marina Outrigger Canoe Club — which has been in the Marina for 40 years — addressed his concerns and the concerns of fellow club members, who attended in a large group, as well as other boating organizations that utilize Mothers Beach.
Cho said they are concerned about how the immensity of this proposed project, including traffic congestion and parking, would affect the various clubs and their daily use of Mothers Beach.
Cho said that a lack of comprehensive design was evident when RRM Design Group presented its plans for Mothers Beach and that all public use components had been ignored.
Accessible and affordable parking during the period of construction was also mentioned by Cho, and he asked what would be done during the construction phase, which could take two to three years.
“This is a primary hub of recreational boating, a very valuable function of the Marina, and the LCP says recreational boating is a priority use,” said Cho.
Nancy Vernon Marino asked that the project be tabled, calling it a fortress regarding visual access to water and boats, and said the viewing deck included the partial view of one of the other buildings. She referred to the view corridors as “alleys.”
David Lumian of the Fairwind Yacht Club said the club provides at-risk youth sailing programs for summer camps on the beach, including Boys and Girls Clubs from all over the county, and it relies on parking across the street.
The request for a height variance was of concern to boaters regarding “wind shadow.”
“This is an Atlantic City boardwalk type of project, and it’s not right for here,” said local resident Bruce Russell. “It’s a Berlin Wall created around Mothers Beach.”
Resident Carla Andrus asked that the project be tabled until a draft of the amendments was available, but Cloke said it was too early in the process and they had to have public input first.