Jerry Epstein, last of the Marina del Rey developers, dies at 96


Jerry Epstein, the final of the Marina del Rey builders who reshaped the Los Angeles shoreline and ushered in an period of harbor-front residing for an enormous and rising metropolis, has died at 96.

Epstein died Sept. 2 at his residence in Los Angeles.

A New York Metropolis child who discovered alternative and loads of open area in L.A. after the tip of World Warfare II, Epstein was additionally a essential drive within the conception and creation of each the Ronald Reagan and Junipero Serra state buildings in downtown Los Angeles after which an aggressive opponent years later when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger threatened to promote them off in a match of monetary desperation.

“Short-term solutions and accounting gimmicks like the proposed sale of state buildings have long-term consequences,” Epstein warned the governor in an opinion piece within the Los Angeles Occasions in 2010.

Unmoved, Schwarzenegger as an alternative fired Epstein from the Los Angeles State Constructing Authority and offered off the buildings.

“At 86 years old,” Epstein responded, “”I’m not personally involved about being fired.”

When Epstein arrived in L.A., he turned a fast scholar of town and its prospects.

For many years, the wind-swept salt marshes simply up the coast from what’s now LAX had transfixed builders and dreamers. In 1887, a builder named M.C. Wicks tried to create a harbor within the marshlands, solely to observe winter storms wash away his progress. In 1918, the thought of scooping out the muck and creating an anchorage was floated once more, however this time the U.S. Military Corps of Engineers stepped in, saying such an enterprise was merely impractical.

As every effort failed, the land was returned to the searching golf equipment that tracked the geese and migratory birds that nested within the estuary,

However within the early 1960s, Epstein was amongst those that helped launch the push for the creation of a small-craft harbor lined with properties and flats, serving to draft the primary grasp plan for the marina, lobbying politicians for funds and hustling Congress to kick in tens of millions to construct a breakwater to guard the waterfront group he envisioned.

On April 10, 1965, Marina del Rey was formally devoted, the biggest small-craft harbor group within the nation. It was billed by realtors as a way of life as a lot as a neighborhood — cocktails on the harbor after an extended day at work, lengthy watery avenues for a late-afternoon sail, an ideal sundown.

“A visit to the Marina del Rey is a real eye-opener,” a 1965 Occasions article raved. “What was once 780 swampy acres in the Santa Monica Bay has now been fashioned into a jewel.”

County officers hurriedly deliberate out a 10-day celebration with boat races, artwork reveals and a contest for Miss Marina del Rey, who would reign over the Christmas and Easter boat parades they have been sure would change into annual fixtures in the neighborhood. A Charley Brown’s restaurant opened on the waterfront. A 34-year-old girl pushed off from Marina del Rey on a solo voyage to Hawaii. The Occasions employed a boating author.

Epstein went all in on the brand new harbor, constructing the Del Rey Shores condominium that lined the shore. Together with actor Kirk Douglas, he later rebuilt it because the Shores Residences, a resort-style group that towered above the water.

However his efforts and his cash have been practically washed away in a savage 1963 storm surge whereas he was constructing his first flats because the marina was taking form.

“Slips were going up and down on their pilings nine feet every minute, until it tore the lines,” he instructed the Argonaut. “That hit the front page of the L.A. Times and my investors left me.”

Whereas the marina was seen as an unlimited success in civic circles, environmentalists noticed it because the ruination of a prized estuary and the lack of important wetlands that served as a filter for the runoff from the sprawling metropolis.

Epstein mentioned he was delicate to the environmental penalties of the marina and labored to assist maintain builders out of the close by marshlands. Over time, the environmental group Associates of Ballona Wetlands has overseen the restoration of practically 600 acreas of wetlands.

Epstein was born Aug. 29, 1923, and raised within the Bronx. He enlisted within the U.S. Military Air Forces after Pearl Harbor and was shortly despatched abroad, the place he flew on B-17 and B-29 bombing runs within the Pacific theater. After the warfare, he attended Emory College in Atlanta earlier than heading west along with his spouse.

Over time, he turned a fixture in L.A. civic life, serving on the Los Angeles State Constructing Authority, the California Vitality Fee, the California Transportation Fee and the Board of Airport Commissioners. He served as a trustee of the St. John’s Well being Heart Basis in Santa Monica for greater than 40 years.

Pat, Epstein’s spouse of 66 years, died in 2015.


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