Downtown developer pays $18 million for Echo Park church properties


ECHO PARK —  The L.A. Business Journal reports that Fred Afari, owner of the Chapman loft building in Downtown L.A., paid nearly $18 million to buy a large collection of properties near Echo Park Lake from the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, with plans to construct “high-end multifamily”  buildings on vacant lots.

The 14 properties in the church portfolio include more than 60 apartment units spread over several buildings, empty lots on Glendale Boulevard and Park Avenue facing Echo Park Lake and a former printing building on Alvarado Street. The sale does not include several significant church landmarks and properties, including the domed Angelus Temple across from Echo Park Lake and the Sunset Boulevard office tower that houses the church headquarters, a Citibank branch and several commercial tenants.

It’s not clear what prompted the church, founded by evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson, to sell off the portfolio but the church has faced numerous financial challenges and shakeups in recent years. The Echo Park properties were amassed over the decades after McPherson, known as Sister Aimee, opened Angelus Temple in the early 1920s.



  1. And they’ll pay nothing in taxes because of the superstitious cult tax break.

    • That is why the tax rules need to change. Churches should NOT be exempt from taxes!! They are businesses!!

    • is it not for all non-profits? Also, what makes a church any more superstitious than, say, a nation state. They are all founded on principles that fall outside of a strict materialist view of the world.

  2. Good! Now these properties will be in the possession of someone who will have to pay taxes on them. Hopefully they sell that ridiculous angelus dome next. Bye Jesus!

    • The Dome is a landmark, so there’s no chance that’ll be replaced and it’s a nice addition to the area. No need to be malicious with religious people, they aren’t all like the Duggars.

    • the church kept rents incredibly low for their tenants though. A lot of those tenants were only paying 1k a month for a one bedroom apartment. Maybe they don’t pay taxes, but they sure made getting by a little easier for the people living in their buildings.

  3. I hope they file for zone changes to put some ground floor retail / dinning on those properties surrounding the lake. The immediate area would benefit tremendously from a few local restaurants, cafes and boutique shops.

    • Yes , just develop EVERYTHING add shops stores condos etc ..to completely rob Echo Park of Its last bits of charm and make it more like a valley strip mall , great idea.

      • Echo Park is cool, but “charm” is not really I quality I believe it possesses.

        • Born and raised here , and To me it has always had charm . Different Style architecture, mom and pop shops , parks , “walkable ” , bicycle (semi) friendly , small schools , run in to friends at coffee shops etc…music , art galleries so on and so forth. That is charm . It is rare to have a small town charming feel in a city as big as L.A. , and Echo Park gas always had that , but not for long. You dont think its charming because you would do better on Ventura Boulevard.

          • Glad you were born and raised in EP, there are many adjectives I would use for Echo Park…. but “charming” is not one of them.

            “You dont think its charming because you would do better on Ventura Boulevard.”

            What’s that supposed to mean?

          • eastsideeats, I am surprised you do not know what San flor means. But then you have to be born and raised near echo park to understand. We appreciate the uniqueness of the buildings and their history. We appreciate the architecture. That is charm.

            And, you do not feel the same way then what you really love and want is up on Ventura Blvd. You should move there since that is what you love. For those born and raised near echo park, we want the area to stay the way it is. We love and enjoy its uniqueness.

            If you don’t like echo park then go to a place that has what you do like and that is not echo park. Leave Echo Park alone. It’s special.

          • Whaaaaat! If you where born and raised here you would know all those charming things didn’t exist not that long ago. The park was a rundown, dangerous mess, the bike lane on sunset didn’t exist, art galleries… What art galleries? coffee shop options those are all new things and where not part of the “charm” of the previous 30 years in EP history

          • Ventura blvd.? How is it that you assume that’s what I love? I’ve lived in NELA almost 20 years, I own a home here, it is my home. Born and raised in California, which is more than most people in this area can say. If you don;t believe me check out some census data.

            The degree to which so many folks “born and raised in Echo Park” have be infantilized by expectations that Echo Park should “stay the way it is.” is truly astonishing. Provincialism at it’s finest.

            Which decade should the present emulate?

            Seriously, you people need to get out more.

          • Replace “charming” with “predominantly Latino” and you will get closer to the core of their argument.

          • Mike, stop being pejorative. Stop making up things and pronouncing them as fact.

            EP was not a run down dangerous place. People came here because it was far, far better and more than that. People came here because of how strongly neighborhoody it was. People came here because of the attitudes and outlooks of the people who already were here, a more egalitarian outlook, one that was accepting of all the social strata. People came here because of how accepting a character the neighborhood was – past tense.

            People came here specifically because it is was NOT like the self-centered selfishness in too many other areas of Los Angeles. People came here because of the various cultures and mix of people, yes, even the Latinos, if you can believe that they would allow Latinos here (which many, many decades ago they did not, Latinos were not allowed north of Temple Street).

            It was the terrain, the wonderful history, the feeling of the place.

            And now all that is just being trampled and torn down, and many people with attitudes to run out the Latinos far too often express themselves here, and its just becoming the same old self-centered crap you find everywhere else and and less and less mixed. Just a loud party neighborhood flowing with booze. You know, its becoming just the kind of people who get Americans a bad reputation in Europe.

          • Why don’t all of you activists and anti “newcomer” folks spend your time lobbying long time (probably Latino) property owners to not sell, or to sell to low income people at below market rates?

            Statements such as:

            “now all that is just being trampled and torn down, and many people with attitudes to run out the Latinos far too often express themselves here, and its just becoming the same old self-centered crap you find everywhere else and and less and less mixed. Just a loud party neighborhood flowing with booze. You know, its becoming just the kind of people who get Americans a bad reputation in Europe.”

            are really ridiculous and depend upon fantasy. there are entitled people everywhere, both newcomers and oldtimers.

            Spend some energy trying to convince folks not to sell. See how that goes.

          • John I have to totally disagree I lived in EP at the top of Echo Park ave in the 80’s it was not known for its charm at all. At best it was known as a cheap place to live and people definitely didn’t feel safe. I remember sitting at the bus stop as a kid and seeing guy beat the crap out of this woman and throw her in a car. No one did anything or even noticed. The park was definitely rundown and while I was probably to young to be harassed By adults I remember seeing fights and intimidation and the water smelled like a sewer. When I got a little older I remeber someone saying something as me and my friend walked by and then trying to start a fight with us. That kind of thing was common and I was just a normal kid. Not a trouble maker. So if you where actually here and you remember it different that’s fine but don’t tell those of us that actually lived here what we saw or how we felt.

        • I would say that you have that backwards.

      • Wouldn’t developing mixed use on a few of these properties make it more of an urban/walkable neighborhood, and thus less like a valley strip mall?

        But I digress… it doesn’t sound like they’ll be building mixed use mid rises on any of these proprties (as much as that might make sense given the spike in commercial and residential rents in the area.)

        • “Wouldn’t developing mixed use on a few of these properties make it more of an urban/walkable neighborhood, and thus less like a valley strip mall?”

          Yes, but knee-jerk opposition to any development/improvement whatsoever doesn’t allow for things like logic.

      • Ted The Hedge Fund Manager

        Oh yes you’re right, everyone must be an idiot, un-permitted sellers of food garbage that don’t obey health code laws and don’t pay any taxes but use all of our social services are better than restaurants that will pay wages and taxes.

  4. Goodbye Jesus? The irony here is that Jesus would have bought the apartments to house the ill, vets, and homeless people. Goodbye GREED.

  5. This is a HUGE step in the gentrification of Echo Park. Hate it or love it, the development of these lots is going to have a big impact on the immediate neighborhood.


  7. Would it be possible to post a map in larger scale in order to see actual locations? Thanks

  8. 35-year Echo Park resident

    I should like to think that Fred Afari will have an incentive to ensure that Echo Park lake remains attractive
    and well-kept since it will be an asset for his tenants or buyers. I enjoy the renovated lake so much now,
    but I’m holding my breath to see how long it is maintained properly by the city.

  9. So the current tenants are about to be run out of their homes. And certainly this developer is going to build something way too big in each location, because that is what he always builds. The low-cost rentals will cease to be.

    • You are right. And, our city councilmember needs to be involved to stop this.

    • On the flip side, if someone owns a property shouldn’t they be allowed to do what they want with it (assuming they comply with zoning?)

      I agree, it sucks to see longtime residents displaced… but as long as they know their rights, they should be well compensated for their trouble.

      In the aggregate, if we really want to stabilize rents we simply need more housing supply. Outside downtown we’re not building a whole lot (and on top of that, foreign speculation is driving demand even higher.)

      Also, as others have mentioned, at least the new owner(s) will be contributing property taxes.

    • The article says they plan to build on the VACANT lots…are we to start complaining about the displacement of rats and possums now?

  10. Having these properties change hands from a tax exempt “church” to a tax paying enterprise seems like a positive development for the area and the city. At the very least I expect the private owner won’t allow graffiti to accumulate like the “church” does. For some reason “churches” throughout the city seem to be blind to graffiti and accumulating trash on their property. The best that I can figure is that since they don’t pay any taxes they don’t feel attached to or accountable to the greater good of the city like those who contribute with their tax dollars do.

  11. Do your homework Mike , in The late 90’s – 2000’s There were great galleries on Echo Park avenue , a book store and Also a few shops, thats when Echo Park still had a sense of community and a small town feel.The Park may have been run down ok , but i never felt a “danger” and i walked there cleaned up or not , because it is where i live and I have always loved it here. I didnt wait for a sort of green light ” ok ok its safe now” to move here . I would not have purchased a home here in 86, or raised children here if i thought it was dangerous . So so tired of the attitude that Echo Park was ” so bad” . Its always been home, and its always been great . That is why people move herer! Lately it is being taken over by air B and B greed and developers, and so this is why Echo Park has lost its charm. So happy to have experienced it when it was less pretentious .

    • Uh my homework was living here in the late 70’s and all the 80’s and of course it’s gotten progressively better since. What your saying is preposterous there is no measurable statistic that would support it being as safe back then there where plenty of streets you just didn’t walk through at night. the very origin of the sunset junction street fair was started as a way to inject a community into a tense atmosphere. It was certainly less pretentious but it was hardly a place that most people aspired to live. If you could have traded people the option to live anywhere most people would have left Echo Park in a second.

  12. Open space. Open space.

  13. According to this article, rents might be going up. Read the entire article:


  14. I live next to one of the empty lots on Glendale and am praying the density is kept to a minimum so Echo Park can remain a local walkable neighborhood.

  15. Wow. Who knew that church owned half of Echo Park like Scientology owns most of Hollywood? The black shirt possee used to sweep up the trash where I lived on Kent St. so we all good.

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