Marina del Rey is waking up from its 1970s time warp

For most of its 30-year history, Marina del Rey has been the favored home of upscale, divorced professionals who flock to the large inventory of six-month leases and boat slip rentals. With apartment complexes sporting names such as Mariner’s Village and the Tahiti Marina, they weren’t coming for the architecture.

Robert Winter and David Gebhard’s “An Architectural Guidebook to Los Angeles” sums it up well: “In the end, neither the planning nor the buildings in Marina del Rey are really worth any extended visit.”

From time warp to warp speed

That may change. The neighborhood located south of Washington and west of Lincoln Boulevard is waking up from its 1970s time warp thanks to developments both recent and upcoming.

For buyers who want to be near the beach, the Marina Peninsula has whitewater ocean views with no bike path or parking lot to block the Pacific.

Another sought-after haven is the Silver Strand, a neighborhood of 350 single-family homes with views of the lagoon and boat channel. Here, the home of L.A. Laker Rick Fox recently sold for a Malibu-like listing price of $4.5 million.

“High-rise developments have added several thousand homes to the Marina area,” says Mike King, manager of Boardwalk Realty’s Marina del Rey office. “When you combine them with Playa Vista to the south, the impact of all those new dwellings on an area the size of Marina del Rey has been phenomenal.”

Beach- and lagoon-front homes are built tall and skinny to maximize views. Yards are nearly nonexistent, but rooftop decks are designed for entertaining, often equipped with a dumbwaiter to ferry up food and drink from the kitchen three levels below.

Live in a loft, walk to Costco

Although the area east of Lincoln and south of Washington boulevards is technically located on Los Angeles County land, developers have christened it the “Marina Loft District.”

Bordering Marina del Rey and Venice, this formerly industrial area was rezoned in the late 1990s to allow for higher-density (and comparably, more affordable) residential developments. Architecture firm the Cuningham Group is designing two projects: 50 units of condominium lofts and 77 units of luxury condos, both for John Laing Homes. Prices are anticipated to run $600,000 and up.

“Given the many creative businesses already in the area, these streets have been begging for housing,” says Annie Charles, VP sales and marketing for John Laing Homes. “Their employees want to live close to work, but the housing stock available would never be for them.”

Says Cuningham’s Jonathan Watt, “There’s been no interesting housing stock at all. Our office is 300 paces from the development site on Glencoe Avenue, and we thought it was an opportunity to do something different.”

Element is the project most likely to put the Marina on the architectural map. Watt likens the hard-edged, industrial-chic design to “a parking garage clad in glass and metal.” The lofts will use pre-cast, steel-reinforced concrete frames that make load-bearing walls unnecessary and allow for a flexible open floor plan.

Finally, developer Rick Caruso, the man behind the Grove, has signed on to undertake a $40 million makeover of the dated Marina Waterside shopping center. Dancing fountains can’t be far behind.

4314 Marina City Dr.

114 Quarterdeck, Silver Strand

21 Reef St., Marina Peninsula
4314 Marina City Drive, #916 114 Quarterdeck, Silver Strand 21 Reef Street., Marina Peninsula
Three-bedroom, 2-bath condo with panoramic ocean and marina views. This end unit has been remodeled with granite and tumbled travertine and has an expanded chef’s kitchen and extra storage space. The complex’s amenities include health club, yacht club, six tennis courts and three pools. Four-bedroom, 3.5-bath home with hardwood and tile floors, gourmet kitchen with electronic dumbwaiter to all levels, granite counters and top-of-the-line appliances and large rooftop deck. Newly constructed, three-level Cape Cod home with four bedrooms and four bathrooms, located half a block from the beach. Rooftop deck has a spa and fireplace.
Listing Price: $925,000 Listing Price: $2.395 million Listing price: $2.995 million
Contact: Denise Fast, RE/MAX Beach Cities (310) 578-5414 Contact: Debra Berman, Coldwell Banker Marina del Rey (310) 577-2320 Contact: Debra Berman, Coldwell Banker Marina del Rey (310) 577-2320
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