I took a look at and snapped some photos of the latest construction project in Marina del Rey. It’s the expansion of the Best Western Jamaica Bay Inn on Admiralty Way near Panay Way. The old Jamaica Bay Inn was a quaint two-story place with approximately 42 rooms, where people liked to go for breakfast. Renderings of the expanded four-story 111-room hotel, for which the neighboring Cafe Escobar was bulldozed to make way, can be found here. The Inn’s PR company describes its project as (warning: get out your air sickness bag) one:
“that will transform the familiar Marina Del Rey property into a lush Caribbean-themed resort befitting its name. The new Jamaica Bay Inn will take advantage of the hotel’s unique location on the only beach inside the marina, an inviting arc of sand and calm water appropriately known as Mother’s Beach. The new hotel will have a colorful porte-cochere that will be a street-side landmark for the property and an elegant lobby with a sophisticated West Indies décor, rattan/wood/leather furniture and a large stone fireplace and chimney as a focal point. The renovation’s architecture will showcase Caribbean features such as dickie-style roofs with standing seam galvanized metal roofs, plentiful balconies with white-painted woodwork and window trim, pale yellow plaster walls and green shutters.”
The question for Marina residents and visitors is: will the expanded Jamaica Bay Inn, and the many other planned construction projects in the neighborhood, represent improvement, or just growth? The Marina has a special status regarding development: according to the Marina del Rey Land Use Plan implemented pursuant to the California Coastal Act, “[p]ublic opportunities for viewing the Marina’s scenic elements, particularly the small craft harbor water areas, shall be enhanced and preserved.” Because of these “scenic elements,” many visitors, and, I imagine, numerous residents, come to the Marina primarily to play. Unfortunately, some residents say that real estate developers have had their way in the area for years.
Nauseating PR puffery aside, I don’t necessarily find the Jamaica Bay Inn project particularly egregious, given its limited — albeit doubled — height and footprint that was largely taken up by two existing buildings. However, due to other planned projects, some of which are gargantuan, the character of the Marina is in a state of flux, and it remains to be seen what will happen. I know I will be watching with interest.