There’s a lot of dirt moving in Marina right now, as scores of construction workers south of Imjin Parkway hustle to put up a Veterans Affairs Clinic, a multiplex theater, a hotel and homes.
All this development is part of the former Fort Ord land called “The Dunes on Monterey Bay,” and it’s lacking one key element – food.
“It’s a restaurant desert,” says Scott Negri, general partner for the Fresno-based commercial real estate firm SKN Properties.
But Negri hopes to make it rain sandwiches, pizza, frozen yogurt and more by this time next year.
“I’m trying to bring to Marina and CSUMB what’s not there,” Negri says. “Unless you want to eat popcorn at the Marina Target, there’s nothing to eat.”
SKN closed escrow Jan. 29 on four parcels at General Stilwell Drive and 2nd Avenue – 3.7 acres for just under $1.8 million – and submitted plans to Marina the next day. SKN’s proposal is for four pads mostly comprising food establishments, along with some retail. Four restaurant leases have already been executed.
“I’m trying to bring as many new restaurants as I can to Marina that are nowhere else in the Monterey Peninsula,” Negri says.
So far, he’s succeeded: The four restaurants that inked leases are Fresno-based Deli Delicious, Pasadena-based Blaze Pizza, Las Vegas-based Teriyaki Madness and L.A.-based Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt.
“UNLESS YOU WANT TO EAT POPCORN AT THE MARINA TARGET, THERE’S NOTHING.”
“My focus is definitely on the ‘quick service’ segment,” Negri says, and is quick to add that it’s not fast food – everything is made to order. “That’s what is growing, and that’s where the industry is going.”
Marina residents have long hungered for restaurants to materialize at the property SKN is developing, most famously when Mayor Bruce Delgado organized a flash mob next to the site in 2011 to court In-N-Out Burger.
“I think it’s great news,” Delgado says of Negri’s proposal. “The restaurants will benefit all those other projects.”
There are at least three more restaurant sites available, including one that could potentially have a drive-thru.
With Negri’s proposal in hand, Marina City Manager Layne Long says the next step is for the city’s design review board to look at factors like elevation, parking and landscaping.
Negri hopes to start building this summer, and anticipates construction will take about six months.
“I hope it will be a big catalyst for the whole Dunes area,” Negri says. “When’s the last time you saw a freestanding theater with nothing around it?”