On this coming Wednesday, July 22, 2015, the Regional Planning Commission will be considering a proposal to construct a 288-room hotel in Marina del Rey at Parcel 9U, located at Via Marina and Tahiti Way. The meeting will be held at 9:00 a.m. at 320 W. Temple Street, Room 150, Los Angeles, CA 90012. This project, a Marriott Courtyard Hotel and Marriott Residence Inn (formerly the Woodfin Hotel and Timeshares), has a long and controversial history. The lessee in both projects is Samuel Hardage, a San Diego developer with longtime ties to the Marriotts. Supervisor Don Knabe appears to be pushing his pet projects forward prior to being termed out in 2016. For the background on this project go to the main page of the Silver Strand News mdrsilverstrandnews.wordpress.com and type in “Hardage.”
Mr. Hardage originally leased the parcel in June, 2006 in order to build a 19-story Woodfin Hotel and Time Share. Thanks to the public and residents, the original design was rejected by the Board of Supervisors. Mr. Hardage’s Woodfin hotel chain went out of business following Hardage’s filing for bankruptcy on behalf of the chain. In October, 2013, Mr. Hardage (now operating under the corporate name of MDR Hotels, LCC) submitted a new proposal for a 5 and 6-story Marriott Brand Hotel and Residence. In February 2014, the Board of Supervisors entered into lease negotiations on the project. http://file.lacounty.gov/dbh/docs/cms1_205242.pdf. The lease was first provided to the public online in November, 2014.
Hardage has been working with Invest LA since 2013 to raise half the estimated 70 million dollar cost of the project by qualifying for EB-5loans. This government program allows developers to get foreign companies/individuals, mostly Chinese and Korean, to invest anywhere from $500,000 to 1 million dollars each in areas with an unemployment rate of 15% or higher. The developer gets loans at under market interest rates, in this case a 5-year loan at 1%. In return, the foreign investor gets, apart from his return on investment, a U.S. visa/green card.
The program began in the 1990s and was meant to create jobs and development in blighted areas with high unemployment. MDR has an unemployment rate below six percent. When Hardage managed to get the hotel project qualified, all he had to do was draw a map including 150 census tracts excluding the wealthy districts of nearby Venice, Santa Monica, Mar Vista, Culver City, Playa Vista and Playa del Rey and including poorer communities to the south and east. Compton for example has an unemployment rate of 20% and is nowhere near Marina del Rey. While EB-5 is still legal, the US Senate is proposing legislation which would make the requirements far more stringent.
Here is Invest LA’s Description of the Project: http://www.investlaeb5.com/projects/wfh.html. You need to download the brochure to see details.
The public and local residents have expressed their opposition to the hotel/s at every stage of the hearings on the parcel over the last nine years. The County “Visioning Process” planners have designated Via Marina as a residential area. How does a hotel fit into that picture?
1) A hotel is an inappropriate use for this site and Marina del Rey already has plenty of hotels, including two Marriotts (the Ritz is a Marriott).
2) Ideally, this parcel, the largest remaining undeveloped site in MDR, would be a public park containing a small maritime museum including the history of Marina del Rey and a center for the educating the public about the Ballona wetlands (the southern portion of the parcel contains a wetland). One way of financing this would be to put a public bond issue on the ballot.
3) The snake in the grass. If the 288-room hotel is shot down and the park plan is rejected, the County could retaliate by putting up yet another monstrous 500 plus apartment complex like “The Shores,” on the site. In terms of Via Marina, The AMLI project is already underway, Legacy Partners is proposing another huge development a block south of it. The Hotels are the third. All these Via Marina projects will coincide with the installation of the new Venice auxiliary sewer line. Work on the latter is scheduled to begin in early 2016.
Here is the official notice from the Department of Regional Planning:
NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING· COUNTY PROJECT NO. TR067861-(4)
COASTAL DEVELOPMENT PERMIT NO. 200600007 CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT NO. 200600288 PARKING PERMIT NO. 200600020
VARIANCE NO. 200600012 ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT NO. 200600216
Richard J. Bruckner
The Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission will conduct a public hearing to consider the project described below. You will have an opportunity to testify, or you can submit written comments to the planner below or at the public hearing. If the final decision on this proposal is challenged in court, testimony may be limited to issues raised before or at the public hearing.
Hearing Date and Time: Wednesday July 22, 2015 at 9:00 a.m.
Hearing Location:320 West Temple St. Hall of Records, Rm. 150, Los Angeles, CA 90012 Project and Permits:
Coastal Development Permit No. 200600007
To authorize the construction of the following: 1) a new five- and six-story 288-room hotel in two wings with associated amenities including meeting rooms, restaurant, bar/lounge, fitness center, and operations spaces including lobby, offices, and laundry and maintenance facilities, a parking garage, parking lot, and associated signage and landscaping;2) a new 28-foot-wide pedestrian promenade; and 3) water taxi shelter.
Conditional Use Permit No. 200600288
To authorize development of a parking structure and the sale of a full line of alcoholic beverages for on-site consumption .
Parking Permit No.200600020
To allow for the use of valet-managed,tandem parking.
Variance No. 200600012
To authorize a zero setback from the waterfront pedestrian promenade and a reduction in the northerly, side yard setback to allow a 7 Ya-foot setback .
Environmental Review No. 200600216
An Addendum to an existlng Environmental Impact Report certified in April of 2011 and an updated Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program (“MMRP”) to determine whether any significant effects to the environment were not identified in the original certified EIR and would result from the revised project has have been prepared pursuant to California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) reporttng requirements.
The proposed Marriott Courtyard and Residence Inn Project (“Project ) site is located on Lease Parcel 9U at the western end of Basin B in the unincorporated community of Marina del Rey. The Project site consists of the northernmost 2.2 acres of the lease parceland is accessed via Via Marina.
320 West Temple Street • Los Angeles, CA 91.l’t) 12 • 213-9 .!-64 l l • Fax: 213-626-0434 • TDD: 213-617-2292
For more information regarding this application, contact Kevin Finkel, AICP Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning (DRP), 320 W. Temple St., Los Angeles, CA 90012. Telephone: (213) 974-4854, Fax: (213) 626-0434, E-mail: . Case materials are available online at http://planning.l acounty.gov or at the following libraries. All correspondence received by DRP shall be considered a public record.
Please try and attend the meeting and fill out speaker card to express your opinion on the project. Your comments will be included as part of the public record.
If you are unable to attend you can expresss your opinion via email to the following. The deadline is for submitting comments is 5pm July 21, 2015. Your comments will be entered in the public record.
Department of Regional Planning:
Richard Bruckner: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kevin Finkel: email@example.com
County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors:
Sheila Kuelh Supervisor, Third District: e-mail: Sheila@bos.lacounty.gov
Sheila Represents those of who live west of Via Marina
Hilda L Solis Supervisor, First District: e-mail: hildalsolis.org
Mark Ridley Thomas, Second District: e-mail: MarkRidley-Thomas@
Don Knabe Supervisor, Fourth District: e-mail: Don@bos.lacounty.gov
Mike Antonovich, Fifth District: e-mail: FifthDistrictlacbos.org