Staff Reporter

After years of criticism that Marina del Rey is an underperforming asset, Los Angeles County is looking at restructuring the leases in an effort to bring in more revenue for the prime waterfront property.

In exchange for extending the long-term leases on existing properties, leaseholders would be required to refurbish the properties including the harbor’s hotels, boat slips, apartments, restaurants, offices and shops.

In addition, county officials want to seek bids for new development including a waterfront promenade similar to Universal CityWalk and a Santa Catalina Island ferry terminal.

“The Marina is tired, it is 30 years old and needs updating before it becomes too late and too expensive,” said Don Knabe, county supervisor for the 4th District where the Marina is located.

The board was scheduled to vote last week on a proposed asset management strategy for the county-owned Marina that included the lease extension proposal and plans for new development.

But the vote was postponed until April 1 at the request of Supervisor Gloria Molina.

Molina believes that the incentives for existing leaseholders including rent deferrals, return of rental premiums and early lease buyouts are too generous.

“The vision is good to spur second generation development, but the plan offers far too many financial incentives to (existing) leaseholders,” said Michael Bustamante, a spokesman for Molina.

The Marina properties are now leased to six owners, with the leases due to expire between 2020 and 2039.

Offering to extend the leases by 10 to 20 years will give leaseholders the leverage they need to obtain financing for major improvements, county officials say.

In return, leaseholders would be required to pdate the existing properties to conform with the proposed vision for the harbor and the county’s Coastal Commission plan adopted in 1996. If an existing leaseholder does not want a lease extension, new developers would be sought.

“The county is interested in becoming an entrepreneur,” said Stan Wisniewski, the county’s Beaches and Harbor director.

“By firming up the extensions on the leases and making them more modern, we would be able to capitalize on current interest in development of the new projects,” he said.

The plan calls for opening the new development to bids as early as June.

Knabe said he was confident he would have the votes to approve the plan when it comes back to the board next month.

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