Eastside Property: Highland Park church awaits a real estate conversion*

Former Church of Christ on York./Martha Benedict

It’s been quite a while since the Church of Christ in Highland Park has hosted a religious service. The century-old building in the 4900 block of York Boulevard is fenced off; the exterior is water stained and the dated green carpet covers the floor of the main sanctuary. But the century old building retains an imposing albeit neglected presence on a mostly residential stretch of York, where it’s tower and peaked roof rise above the surrounding bungalows.  Now, under new owners, the old church is poised to start a new life but not as a place of worship.

The 6,600-square foot building is being as a possible retail, restaurant or “Creative/Loft” space, according to a LoopNet Listing.  One person who was on the church said the place needs a lot work but could be used as a music venue or other uses. He said it had not been used as a church for several years.

But one possible hurdle facing any conversion of this property into a restaurant, retail or other use is that it lacks any off-street parking, as noted in the listing.

Still, the property is located a short walk from the new stores and cafes that have popped up along York in recent years. Says the listing:

Endless possibilities in this massive, lofty, character space. Let your imagination run wild – C4 zoning. Owners are local and creative.

In addition to having faith in the ongoing revival of York Boulevard, anyone who takes over the former Church of Christ will have to have a lot of cash. The church is being leased at an asking rate of $9,000 a month.

* Update: Music publicist Graeme Flegenheimer is negotiating to lease the church and turn the building into a venue for live music and films as well space for a restaurant. Flegenheimer, who lives four blocks from the church,  provided more details about his project and challenges ahead:

This space is so special. It has the potential to boast a 500 cap upstairs for live music & limited run films / premieres. The downstairs venue, a smaller space, for 200 cap. We are aiming to have a restaurant as well in the space. The biggest hurdle is going to be get attaining the change of use permit & live music permit. We have a parking lot four blocks away… However, I really believe in NELA. Certainly think that this venue could be the first place to socialize, see some great art & cinema. I’ve had a passion for cinema & music since a young age and I really want to build a space that allows people to see all forms of music & all types film. Something enriching. Not a nightclub or your typical. Art is what I choose to worship. What’s a better spot to worship than a Church?

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  1. I just noticed this place the other day, and literally thought to myself, “I wonder when this’ll turn into condos?”

  2. Possible local music venue/restaurant coming… We need help from the community.

  3. Black Flag should live in the basement.

  4. As Ben Franklin said “lighthouses are more useful than churches”

    • Now I know you don’t have a soul. That’s why you want others to feel the strife, because you have some real emptiness. I will continue to be dumb, and you will continue to have emptiness, how sad.

      • The truth does not require faith.

        Consider that next time you are “praying”. And please consider that before you respond with more nonsense.

  5. Nothing a big earthquake won’t fix.

  6. Hope a Big Nightclub comes in blasting their amplified sound system. Then members of Divine Saviour Catholic church can get a taste of their own medicine. See how they like “forced noise” into their homes. They like it just fine to force their noise into other people’s homes. It is 4 Bullhorns on top of their church all day long every day of their tape recorded off key bells and music. Let’s see how they feel about it when it is forced into their home.

    • Susan, maybe you can move there and operate a church based on non-amplification!

    • Susan,
      We had a similar issue near us with a church. We started by trying to talk to the pastor. When he refused, we started calling the police. The first couple times when the police came they were confused about the law. One female cop said “they can do it because it’s freedom of speech”! When I stopped laughing, I explained the noise ordinance to her and they were able to convey the message. That time. many more calls to the police before I spoke to my SLO. He sent them a letter threatening the church with citations if they did not comply with the noise ordinance laws. Finally it has stopped. Amen!

      Not sure what these people think. Is their god hard of hearing? Don’t they preach that god “knows your heart”? So whats up with the amplified music and amplified fire and brimstone sermons?

      Anyway Susan, be patient. Keep calling the police and your SLO. Be the squeaky wheel.

    • Susan, you still kvetching? Hasn’t your hero, Gil Cedillo come to your rescue yet?

  7. Why let a little thing like parking limit you? Even if 700 people came 4 to a car, they would need 175 parking spaces on a sold out night (using the Flegenheimer estimates in story). I’m sure they’ll all be riding bikes and taking the bus to the nightclub.

  8. The Center for The Arts in Eagle Rock doesn’t have any parking lot yet regularly holds concerts that draw big crowds. Parking shouldn’t be an issue for this place, the area is very walkable, bikeable, accessible by transit (and there’s a city owned parking lot a block and a half away….

  9. Hada Merryweather

    I like that innovative and creative entrepreneurs are looking to York Blvd for their business ventures… Nice to see that plans for the use of the church building. I hope this will include revamping it to become aesthetically pleasing to the eye(respecting it’s architectural character), attractive to patrons, and enhancing of the business corridor.

  10. the person who is purchasing is not an adult, but a child. he lives down the street from me and family and is a nuisance to our street. He consistently leaves his trash bins on the street, spilled over with beer cans and glass on the ground for motorists to run over. Over the last two weeks he has had loud parties that keep me and my children awake throughout the night. There were fireworks originating from his house that hit a child’s back and his guests continue to urinate on neighbors lawns. If this is how he maintains his house, how is he going to maintain a venue? I, myself, am disheartened that he is purchasing this space. It’s shameful.

    • As his next door neighbor, we’ve been notified of those two shows. Which were concerts. This is what propelled the idea of the church. I spoke to him and his staff is coming from the east coast from an esteemed music venue. Higher Ground. They are “adults” and have been running that music venue for for over 15 years. Other than those two parties, he has been an extremely respectful and quiet neighbor for over 9months.

  11. I live 2 blocks from there and I’m in full support! I love the idea of a having a new music venue in the area.

  12. York is very walkable. Glad someone sees the potential of this space. It sounds like it will fit in well with the changing neighborhood. I’ll support it.

  13. This place would be awesome for wedding venues and private events as well… If done right.

  14. Highland Park Armory

  15. Looking forward to supporting this venue showcasing music, film, art, and food.

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