Work to begin on Marina del Rey apartment project


The last surviving original developer of Marina del Rey will start work Monday on a $165-million apartment complex there that will replace one he built in the 1960s.

The project is part of a push by Los Angeles County officials to spruce up the aging publicly owned marina, the largest pleasure boat harbor community in the United States. Leaseholders of land there have been urged to upgrade their restaurants, shopping centers, hotels and apartments in the hope of creating a more dynamic community.

Leaseholder Jerry Epstein will raze his 202-unit Del Rey Shores apartment community on Via Marina and replace it with a 544-unit complex in fewer, taller buildings, that will be called simply Shores. The old units have been vacant since October, he said.


Nadel Architects Inc. designed Shores in 12 four- and five-story buildings to replace 32 two-story buildings. The new development would have a larger courtyard with a pool, spas, outdoor fire pits and barbecues.

Actor Kirk Douglas, who has been Epstein’s partner in the marina since the 1960s, and Guardian Life Insurance Co. of America also are part of the joint venture that is developing Shores.

Renewal of the marina, which has been taking place for the last few years, will create a more attractive destination for residents and visitors while raising more tax revenue for the county, Epstein said.

“We have great confidence going forward in the appeal of the marina,” Epstein said. “I am as excited today as I was back in 1962 when the marina opened.”

Central to building Shores is a 42-year, $125-million loan from Red Mortgage Capital Inc. insured by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Epstein said.

Crews will build two buildings at a time until all 12 buildings on the 8.3-acre Shores site are complete, Epstein said. The first apartments are expected to open in about 20 months, and the project could be completed within two years.


Likely tenants are in their 20s and early 30s or empty nesters looking to downsize from their houses and live near the water, said David O. Levine, Epstein’s chief of staff. “Those are the two largest demographic groups we serve in the marina.”

Monthly rents would range from $2,000 to $2,800 for a one-bedroom unit and from $2,550 to $3,700 for two bedrooms. Fifty-four units would be set aside for affordable housing.

Marina del Rey is one of the county’s most valuable revenue-generating assets, pulling in nearly $55 million in rent and taxes annually. But many properties haven’t changed for decades, and observers have described the waterfront neighborhood as stuck in the ‘60s.

“The marina is dated,” said Santos Kreimann, director of the county Department of Beaches and Harbors. “Renovations and new projects like Shores … will go a long way to make sure the infrastructure is at a level to command the rents we would like to see and to make sure the quality of life is what residents want.”

Redevelopment of the Shores site was controversial. It overcame legal hurdles, including a court challenge to its environmental impact report that was defeated. Affordable housing advocates were disappointed that more units weren’t subsidized for “very low income” renters when the project was approved in 2007.

The developer said that adding more low-income housing would cost the county millions of dollars. Because the county owns the land, it receives 10.5% of the rents as part of its lease agreement with the apartment owners. The county also takes a cut of boat slip and hotel room rentals and restaurant sales.

The county’s 400 acres in Marina del Rey belong to about 50 leaseholders on long-term contracts, most of which are winding down. County officials have told many leaseholders that they need to improve their properties if they hope to secure renewals of their leases.