New Marina del Rey apartments are tailored to tech, media workers
Online bingo game manager Adam Carpenter wants a dog, and his apartment landlord is ready to roll out the red carpet for the prospective pooch.
In Marina del Rey and upscale neighborhoods nearby, the drive is on to attract sophisticated tenants like Carpenter who work in the technology, media and entertainment businesses flourishing on the Westside. Dog runs, smoke-free apartments, fire pits, Wi-Fi, fully equipped gyms and pools are just a few of the amenities tailored for the creative set.
A new addition is a splashy complex of 12 buildings with 544 apartments at the marina. Called Shores, it was built by legendary Marina del Rey developer Jerry Epstein, who also erected the original apartments on the site in the 1960s. They were demolished to make room for Shores.
“Our goal is to be the preferred residential address of Silicon Beach,” Epstein said, invoking a trendy term for the area from Santa Monica south to Venice and beyond that is thick with tech start-ups — as well as office space for established firms such as Google.
Across the Westside, hundreds of new apartments have recently been completed or are under construction that intend to catch the fancy of prosperous, tech-savvy young tenants who are accustomed to being catered to by employers competing for their talents.
While “No pets” was once a standard line in nearly every apartment lease agreement, today’s landlords to the tech set are going out of their way to make dog owners welcome with special areas to exercise and even bathe pooches.
At Shores, on Via Marina, that policy comes with a high-tech twist — the landlords take a sample of each resident dog’s DNA. If they leave behind animal waste where they’re not supposed to, a quick test will reveal the identity of the culprit.
It’s all about maximizing the quality of life for tenants with high expectations, said David O. Levine, who helped Epstein build the just-completed $165-million complex. The developers surveyed potential tenants last year and tailored the project to their responses.
All units, for instance, are smoke-free. Only 2% of respondents to the survey preferred to allow smoking. Dogs were far more popular than cigarettes, it turned out, so the developers designated units in seven of the 12 buildings pet-friendly.
Carpenter, the animal lover, rented a dog-approved unit but is holding off on adopting one until he knows he can also bring it to work. His employer, Buffalo Studios, recently leased new headquarters space in a plush Santa Monica office building and is about to move in.
The office building’s owners have a no-pets policy, Carpenter said, but he hopes the rules will change because many Buffalo employees like to bring their dogs to work.
Other moves the Shores made to court tenants were the addition of roof-top terraces with gas fire pits, multiple barbecues with adjacent eating areas and furnished outdoor conversation spaces. There are electric vehicle charging stations, covered bicycle parking and a court for playing boccie.
It almost goes without saying that the complex has a swimming pool and a fitness center. Nearly half the complex has been leased, Levine said, at rents ranging from $2,276 to $4,027.
Epstein is no newcomer. At 90, he is the last active original developer of Marina del Rey. In 2011 he razed his 202-unit Del Rey Shores apartment community that he built in the 1960s and started work on Shores. A key financial partner in both developments was actor Kirk Douglas.
Shores is part of a wave of second-generation development taking place in the Los Angeles County-owned marina. The land there is controlled by about 50 leaseholders including Epstein on long-term contracts with the county, 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.
Developers of other major apartment projects outside the marina also have Silicon Beach workers in mind.
“That’s absolutely one of our prime demographics,” said Eric Diamond, chief operating officer of Decron Properties Corp. The Los Angeles landlord and developer is building the 260-unit Playa del Oro West apartment and retail complex in Westchester on a former hotel site.
Tech-oriented tenants are held to high standards at work, Diamond reasons, so they set the bar high for people they pay for services.
“The expectations they have for their landlords are no less stringent than the ones they have for themselves,” he said. “They want that same consistent commitment to their hobbies, whether it’s pets or working out.”
Playa del Oro West, valued at nearly $100 million, will have a dog park and dog washing stations so that tenants won’t have to hose down their pets in their units. It will also have a large fitness center, Diamond said, as well as a cinema screening room, business center and game room.
“It’s about the psychology and philosophy” of Silicon Beach, he said. “There is a mind-set of affordable quality. The tech world is all about affordable technology.”
Playa del Oro is set to open in the fall of next year.
Construction company Bernards is building the project and also working on the $140-million redevelopment of Lincoln Place, a garden-style apartment complex built shortly after World War II in Venice that will have nearly 800 units.
Among the amenities not included in the late 1940s will be a resort-style pool with cabanas, underwater music and a fire pit. The complex owned by Denver apartment landlord Aimco will also have indoor and outdoor fitness facilities, barbecues and an Internet cafe when completed in December 2014.
Westside rents are expected to rise nearly 7% this year to an average of $2,408 a month for all apartments, even though inventory is rising, real estate broker Marcus & Millichap said in a third-quarter report.
“Developers say their need for high-density multifamily product is through the roof” in neighborhoods that appeal to Silicon Beach denizens, said Dave Cavecche, a vice president at Bernards. “We don’t really see a point where things are going to slow down.”