Boat Mall proposed for Lake Elsinore

LAKE ELSINORE, Calif. – An Irvine-based developer wants to include a boat mall in a $100 million project that could transform the shore of Lake Elsinore, if plans to clean up the lake work, a story in the Press-Enterprise, a Riverside newspaper, said today.

The paper reported that Marina Developers LLC is planning an 80-acre development on the south shore of Lake Elsinore that would include a marina for 300 boats, roughly 390 town homes, and a 12,000-square-foot events center.

With 175,000 square feet dedicated to the watercraft mall, managers of Marina Developers think they can capture 10 percent to 20 percent of all boat sales in Southern California. Southern California’s retail boat market is estimated at $1 billion a year, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association, the story said.

Dubbed “WatersEdge Lake Elsinore,” the project will also include a private boat launch, dry dock and 250,000 square feet of retail space for restaurants, boat-related shops and waterfront showrooms and boat slips that would allow test drives on the lake. A 125-room, brand-name hotel is planned for a later phase, according to the story.

“Retail is always evolving. We wanted to take an industry and make it bigger than it was before,” said Ian Brown, senior vice president and retail specialist with Grubb & Ellis, a commercial real estate brokerage.

Development could be unique
Project backers say the high land costs have prevented the development of waterfront boat malls elsewhere in Southern California and believe Lake Elsinore offers an opportunity to build on relatively low-cost land, the story said.

The newspaper says city officials hope the development not only captures boat retailers, but also attracts manufacturers to the city’s growing industrial parks, turning Lake Elsinore into an industrial hub for watercraft. Company officials hope to get approvals by the city and environmental regulators by the end of March or early April for the mixed-use project.

The target date for opening is Memorial Day 2005, the paper said.

The company will develop and own the retail and restaurant space, but sell the residential element to a homebuilder, the story quoted Dan Hamilton, Marina Developers’ chief executive officer as saying.

Hurdles still remain
The marina’s development team still faces some major obstacles. The paper said Brown, Hamilton and Steven Delson, a 30-year industry veteran who helped develop Mission Viejo, are funding a portion of the project, and still have to secure some financing.

An algae problem, responsible for killing fish and turning the lake green, is another issue to overcome. The organization in charge of cleaning up the lake must also ensure that the lake has a stable source of water, the Press-Enterprise said.

The latter problem will be addressed later this year when the Lake Elsinore & San Jacinto Watersheds Authority begin pumping well water and using reclaimed water that has been treated to keep the lake’s level constant. There will also be 20 augers installed to mix the water, bringing oxygen to the lake’s bottom to prevent fish from dying and control algae, the story said.

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