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Billionaire LA Developer, Mayoral Candidate Rick Caruso Explores Control of County-Owned California

Creator of Popular Open-Air Shopping Centers Has Been Active in Marina del Rey in Recent Years

Marina del Rey is a popular boating and tourism destination in Los Angeles County, which owns the harbor and leases out parcels to businesses such as the California Yacht Club.

Billionaire Los Angeles developer and mayoral candidate Rick Caruso appears to be exploring whether to expand his harborside real estate in Los Angeles County.

Caruso's development organization has been in talks with Los Angeles County officials to secure the soon-to-expire lease on the site of the California Yacht Club in Marina del Rey, according to Los Angeles County records.

Caruso's company already has multiple investments in the area, including the 10-acre, 133,000-square-foot shopping center Waterside at Marina del Rey, which is also on land leased from the county, as well as the ground lease for at least three parcels next to the California Yacht Club, according to county records.

The county owns much of the waterfront land in Marina del Rey and leases the highly coveted parcels to developers and business owners. Richard Montgomery, chair of the county's Small Craft Harbor Commission, which reports to the Board of Supervisors about the operation and management of Marina del Rey, said in a Feb. 9 commission meeting that he had talked with Caruso representatives about the developer taking on the lease where the California Yacht Club operates.

The yacht club's lease, which carried a minimum annual rent last year of nearly $1.1 million, is set to expire July 31, potentially unmooring it from the property where it operates if it cannot obtain an extension. The club itself was sold in late 2021 to Philadelphia-based self-storage real estate investment trust CubeSmart as part of a $1.7 billion deal with self-storage firm LAACO, which also owned the yacht club and the Los Angeles Athletic Club in downtown L.A. CubeSmart, which has already sold the downtown club, has been seeking to sell the yacht club as well.

Caruso's intentions for the yacht club are unclear. A company representative did not respond to a request to comment from CoStar News. Montgomery declined to comment, saying the meeting minutes were in draft format and that until they are reviewed and approved by the entire commission, it is not appropriate for him to discuss them.

In a recording of the Feb. 9 meeting, Montgomery said, "I also had a tour with the Caruso team and other comments, calls regarding California Yacht Club land transfer."

A representative for the California Yacht Club did not respond to a request to comment from CoStar News.

Real Estate, Politics

Caruso's best-known developments include the roughly 600,000-square-foot Grove shopping center, the mixed-use Americana at Brand and the roughly 125,000-square-foot Palisades Village, according to the developer's website.

In total, the private developer controls roughly 2.5 million square feet. He also owns the luxury Rosewood Miramar Beach hotel in Santa Barbara.

In February, Caruso formally entered the race for mayor of Los Angeles and has so far loaned his campaign $10 million, drastically outspending his opponents, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Before his mayoral bid, Caruso served five years as the president of the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners and, in 2018, became chairman of the University of Southern California board of trustees. He stepped down from the board in February.

The developer, whose net worth is estimated at $4.3 billion by Forbes, is also a boating enthusiast and is known for owning a 65-foot yacht called Invictus valued at $100 million.

The California Yacht Club was founded in 1922 and moved to its present site in 1967, according to the club's website.

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