Dwellings in Venice Completed on Formerly ‘Unusable’ Parcel : Developer Takes Up Challenge in Imaginative Design

Times Staff Writer

The design concept of Del Rey Colony, a new 10-acre condominium community in Venice, has provided a practical answer to a site once considered unusable.

“As the availability of prime areas of the city dwindles, developers must face the challenge of turning a potential negative into a real positive. This kind of successful turnabout is what I believe we achieved at Del Rey,” said Michael Grust, vice president of Christiana Community Builders, the master planners of Huntington Harbour and other waterfront projects.

“Sites in the beach areas of Southern California are among the most expensive, most desirable and least available, yet public demand for homes near the ocean never abates.”


The $16-million, high-end Del Rey community offers 54 attached and detached condominium units, all in excess of 2,200 square feet. Each looks out on portions of the project’s waterway system and central lagoon with an island, the focal point of colorful landscaping.

Flood Control Measures

Located at 690 Harbor Street, Del Rey Colony uses land that was considered unbuildable 10 years ago. The site is in a flood-control easement and remains part of a comprehensive flood-control plan for the Venice/Marina del Rey areas through an agreement with the county flood control district and the city of Los Angeles.

“The central lagoon, a design solution that has dealt both with the problems of flood-control easement and the project’s aesthetic considerations, can be used as a reservoir for storm run-off in the event of major flooding,” Grust explained.

The 1.3-acre lagoon, with a perimeter of 2,280 linear feet, has a recirculating system that keeps the water moving to prevent stagnation of the 1.55 million gallons of water contained at a variable depth of one to four feet. It has a PVC membrane liner with an outer three-inch concrete skin.

The gated town house complex offers three distinctive floor plans ranging from 2,300 to 2,600 square feet, with two bedrooms and den, three baths, and priced from $319,000 to about $420,000.

Features of Homes

Its features, according to the architect, Richardson Nagy Martin of Newport Beach, stresses quality and simplicity and high-tech elements--extensive use of glass brick inserts, wood and tile step-down living rooms, wood-burning fireplaces, in addition to skylights, master bathrooms with spa and indoor/outdoor spaces that include a community recreation center, swimming pool and exercise room.


Christiana Community Builders developed Del Rey Colony, the Harris Co. of Glendale was the general contractor, Peridian & Associates, Irvine, the landscape architect and Jon Douglas Realty, Marina del Rey, the exclusive listing agent.

“We are quite intrigued with the result of this regeneration in land development and the project will continue in a close working relationship with the district. All units in Del Rey Colony are built with 100-year flood run-off protection,” Grust added.

The project has been honored by Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley for its best and highest use of a site, its positive impact on its Venice neighborhood environment and for being in the forefront of a trend by developers who must look at sites with fresh perspectives to remain competitive into the 1990s.

Christiana Cos. Inc., formed in 1953, and its subsidiaries, have been involved in the development of residential and investment real estate with 1985 revenues of $57-million.