Shoreline Workforce Development Service’s welcome mat in Marina is a gravel road that turns into a dirt road and leads nowhere. A chain-link fence blocks access to 10th Street, which runs behind Shoreline’s employment training center and adjacent chapel. “Our address is 249 10th St.,” Facility Manager Bill Taylor says, “so we don’t have an address, and it’s been like that for a while.”
Marina Community Partners, developer of The Dunes on Monterey Bay, tore up the streets and cleared abandoned Army buildings around Shoreline’s property, readying it for new roads and homes. But the developer hit the brakes on construction last fall after the housing market tanked. The unfinished construction has left Shoreline, a vocational training hub that also rents conference and church space, at the edge of a sandy wasteland scattered with plastic culverts.
This is not to say old barracks were much more appealing. But Taylor says Shoreline’s conference center business is down 23 percent compared to last year. “There is no doubt about it that our environment is hurting us,” Taylor says. “We are not as attractive as we had been in the past. We are hard to get to.”
Shoreline’s neighbor, the Young Nak Presbyterian Church of Monterey, has it even worse. The church doesn’t have electricity or running water. About seven months ago, the church planned to move its sanctuary from nearby 8th Street to the 10th Street property, says senior church elder Young Shin. But now there is no road access. The sanctuary still sits on risers. “The building is lifted up and supposed to move, but we just can’t,” Shin says. “It’s not fair to us that we don’t have any place to worship.”
City officials say construction will restart in October thanks in part to an equally lauded and cursed agreement between the developer and Marina Redevelopment Agency. On Aug. 5 the City Council agreed to pay Marina Community Partners $106 million in redevelopment funds for the project’s infrastructure and affordable housing. In exchange, the developer will resume construction on the retail and hotel elements of the project. Under a separate agreement approved Aug. 12 by the council, the developer will complete public improvements near Shoreline and Young Nak Church.
“When the project stopped, those improvements stopped as well,” says Doug Yount, Marina’s development services director. “And now they will get back on track here in the next couple months.”
The improvements include a new storm drain system, curbs, gutters, pavement, streetlights and sidewalks in the vicinity of 8th Street, 3rd Avenue and 10th Street. The work is estimated to cost the developer nearly $1.1 million.
John Collins, Shoreline’s senior vice president, says the new agreement between the city and developer is encouraging. “We are really happy that there seems to be movement afoot to get the project to continue,” Collins says.
Shoreline, a division of Goodwill, was the second group to move into Fort Ord after the military base closed, Collins says. Shoreline supports its clerical training and culinary school by renting out its conference center and chapel for weddings and other catered events.
Taylor says it’s evident that Shoreline’s disheveled environment has not been inviting to couples looking for a wedding site. “They don’t tell us they don’t like what they see,” he says, “but you can see it on their faces.”
While Shoreline deals with a bumpier road and unsightly surroundings, Young Nak Church is completely landlocked. The Korean congregation of about 100 has been sharing space with Church of the Oaks in Del Rey Oaks, Shin says. Meanwhile the church’s newly renovated educational buildings remain fenced off without power or water. “We are in really bad shape,” Shin says. “They destroyed all of 10th Street, and we don’t have any access.”
Shin says his congregation is hopeful that construction will proceed soon, however, so their sanctuary can be delivered to its new home among sand gilia and big box stores.
Once the 1,237-home Dunes development is completed, Shoreline’s nonprofit business will benefit, Taylor says. But for now he remains a little bitter about not having an address. “[The city is] talking about gutters and curbs, about all that stuff that was promised,” Taylor says, “but all we got was a hole in the ground.”