Developer plans to break ground soon on redevelopment of Pier 44

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

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

By Gary Walker

The California Coastal Commission has rejected an appeal against the redevelopment of Pier 44 in Marina del Rey, allowing construction of new restaurants and retail — including a waterside Trader Joe’s specialty grocery story — to break ground along Admiralty Way as early as this year.

Santa Monica-based developer Pacific Marine Ventures LLC plans to reconfigure the boat sales, maintenance and dry dock facility into an 83,253-square-foot shopping and dining destination encompassing eight new structures.

In addition to a Trader Joe’s with a seaside dining patio, parking for boats and a water taxi stop, the new Pier 44 would set aside another 8,000 square feet for waterfront restaurants and include a public pedestrian promenade along the waterfront that’s 28 feet wide. A new location for boating supplies retailer West Marina and a new home for the South Corinthian Yacht Club are also in the mix, with space for 462 cars and 100 bicycles to park.

The Costal Commission June 9 vote to reject the appeal was unanimous.

Jon Nahhas, a frequent critic of Marina del Rey development who founded the small boater advocacy group the Boating Coalition, had filed the appeal against Pier 44’s coastal development permit.

“Marina del Rey was built for the recreational enjoyment by the residents of Los Angeles County. It was not built for the residents as a destination to shop. Based on the information available, it appears that the approved project is inconsistent with the [coastal development] policies related to traffic, public participation in the decision-making process, public access, non-water related uses in the tidal zone and the overall policies of the California Coastal Act,” Nahhas wrote in his appeal.

Nahhas also complained that the new Trader Joe’s location does not provide adequate parking and that not enough was being done to mitigate local traffic impacts. He also charged that officials did not allow for adequate public participation in the review and permitting process, a frequently voiced concern about new development in Marina del Rey.

The project has been approved by Regional Planning and the supervisors. Nahhas was appealing a decision by the supervisors, who turned down his initial appeal of the planning commission’s approval.

Aaron Clark, a land-use consultant with Armbruster Goldsmith & Delvac LLP who is representing Pacific Marine Ventures, characterized Nahhas and his Boating Coalition as a “coalition of two.”

“The appellant’s chief allegation is that the project will adversely impact the public’s ability to access the coast, in contravention to the Coastal Act’s access policies. We categorically reject that false allegation,” Clark wrote to the commission about the appeal.

Now that the project can move forward, Clark said Pacific Ventures would try to obtain building permits as quickly as possible.

“We’d anticipate breaking ground by late summer or fall,” he said.