Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Will an Eagle Rock mansion become a priest retreat?

Bekins mansion Eagle Rock

EAGLE ROCK  —  The Archdiocese of Los Angeles is planning to buy the former Bekins-Lane mansion, built in the 1920s by the founder of the Bekins moving company, and turn the 3-1/2 acre-estate on Hill Drive into a religious retreat for priests.

The purchase and plans have not been finalized, said Adrian Marquez Alarcon, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese. “We are currently in discussions with the Conservancy, local government and neighbors that would potentially be impacted.”

A letter sent to neighbors by a church public affairs consultant says the main residence, which sprawls over 5,000-square-feet,  and most of the grounds would remain the same. However, several guest houses, a garage and pool would be demolished to make way for a two-story retreat center.  On average six to eight priests would stay overnight in the mansion while six to eight persons would staff the retreat center.

“The mission is to provide a prayerful, peaceful and holistic environment in which priests [can be] strengthened and renewed in their relationship with god,” says the letter.  “Therefore the focus is to provide an extremely quiet atmosphere.”

The church’s plans have generated some concern among neighbors, who have been posting and circulating letters of their own. Their concerns range from the impact on parking and traffic, construction noise, potential future expansions and a zoning change that might attract businesses to the neighborhood of single-family homes.

The current owners have tried to sell the property several times in recent years without success.

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  1. Fabian o'Phurrel

    Nuns compound and home in Los Feliz — SELL
    Retreat in Eagle Rock for Priests ———–BUY

  2. The idea of having catholic priests living in a retreat in such close proximity to Dahlia Heights Elementary School must have parents with children in the school worried. Is there a way the community can make a condition of the approval a guarantee that no pedophile priests will be housed at this retreat?

  3. Building a “religious retreat facility for priests” in place of the Belkin-Lane mansion and property may be a concern for parents with children, as well as other residents in the area.

  4. Do any Eastsider readers know of any recent precedents for getting a zoning variance for converting a residential property in an R-1 zone to an institutional use?

  5. Also, it’s 2.86 acres, not 3.5.

  6. I thought they already had the retreat (next to but separate from the nuns’/Katy Perry property in Los Feliz!
    If the church does buy the property that takes it off the tax rolls to the tune of almost $5,000 a year…except that value was based on the assessed value from the previous long term owner. The sale would bring a re-assessment if it were an ordinary buyer.
    The church evicted a small group of nuns from their home/center so they could sell the property and use the money to help pay off
    the lawsuit awards for the abuse suits…the nuns were moved into another convent…no longer on their own, no longer helping the
    people in the neighborhood where they lived.
    Take a look at the property. I would think a retreat center should focus on the inner man and not on a lush, extravagant surroundings which do NOT reflect the lives the parishioners lead. And who will pay for the extensive staff, the gardening (the water bill!) and such.
    Where is this money coming from? The property in Los Feliz was donated to the church…now they have to buy more? Maybe they’re planning on buying it with the money from the convent sale to Katy Perry….
    I’ve nothing against religion but I’ve a lot against those who abuse the trust others place in them.

  7. University of Tampa professor Ryan T. Cragun along with students Stephanie Yeager and Desmond Vega: “While some people may be bothered by the fact that there are pastors who live in multimillion dollar homes, this is old news to most. But here is what should bother you about these expensive homes: You are helping to pay for them! You pay for them indirectly, the same way local, state, and federal governments in the United States subsidize religion — to the tune of about $71 billion every year.”

    • Apart from the pedophilia issue, it really is quite scandalous that the luxury lifestyle being led by priests such as these is so heavily subsidized by the tax free status granted “churches.” It is especially scandalous considering how so many tax paying citizens live pay check to pay check and struggle to pay their taxes.

      Is a 5,000 square foot mansion on sprawling grounds for only six to eight “priests” really necessary? To make matters worse this particular mansion is situated high on a hill which will have these “priests” literally looking down on the very folks who struggle to pay the taxes that the wealthy church gets away without having to pay.

  8. And don’t get me started on Bernie Sanders wanting to substantially raise the taxes of everyone including the poor, the working class, and the middle class without a word on righting the egregious wrong of wealthy “churches” getting away for years and years without having to pay a penny of their fair share.

  9. A 2 story building in a beautiful residential neighborhood will ruin that area! Demolishing part of Eagle Rock history should not be allowed! The hill drive area has always been kept up beautifully. Let’s keep it that way!

    • Just want to point out that the church would tear down some of the smaller guest houses, not the main house.

      • …that’s what they SAY… but remember when they almost tried to have St. Vibiana’s torn down in the middle of the night?

  10. If the Church decides to take care of the property and have priests live there to worship god, that’s perfectly fine. Considering there will likely be security guards on the property anyway, all in all, this will be good for the area and will likely increase property values too. Welcome to Eagle Rock <3

    • It seems unlikely to raise property values. Single buyer will raise property values – this however is more akin to a business or organization moving into a residential neighborhood.

  11. I am dead set against this >> Will an Eagle Rock mansion become a priest retreat? << As some posts above have mentioned, I too am amazed that priests would need such a beautiful expensive mansion and grounds for a "retreat!"
    As for this little revelation- "However, several guest houses, a garage and pool would be demolished to make way for a two-story retreat center."
    Why in the world would anything on that luxury estate be torn down? There's already the two-story mansion, plus the guest houses, so why the need for their "two-story retreat center?!"
    I think it is appalling that a church has that much money to blow on such luxuries instead of helping the ones who need help. Especially now, with all the displaced persons who have lost their homes due to these recent fires.
    I sure hope that this beautiful estate and important part of Eagle Rock's history is never sold to these type of religious organizations. What a shame!

  12. …This grand historic estate in Eagle Rock This 5,942 sqft multi-acreage manor presides over almost 3 acres of landscaped grounds.
    Site of important events including a US Presidential address to weddings, festivals and family sporting activities. Inside the gated & walled domain are endless destinations: 3 Guesthouses, Greenhouse, Croquet court, football/soccer field, Bistro “restaurant”, extra large Swimming Pool, outdoor Stage, picnic park & another acre of garden paths to stroll under cool treeshade.
    Entry Hall present a rising staircase that leads to private family quarters upstairs.
    The LivRm features curving windows & 2 sitting rms just beyond it.
    Dining Rm comfortably seats 40 or a very special 4.
    ****Lower level offers lodge, Billiards rm & Bar Lounge for post dinner repose, plus full Kitchen for refreshments-or for catering larger affairs.*** A rare offering for one of LA’s prestigious estates.

    Yep, they really need that lower level offering along with owning another prestigious estate. SMH

  13. Found some more info-
    Wednesday, 21 October 2009 in Community News
    There are 3 houses on the property:
    A large number of members and guests of the Eagle Rock Valley Historical Society found out what’s been going on straight from the source last night at the Society’s public meeting at the Center for the Arts in Eagle Rock.
    Mr. Robert Kvassay gave a slide show update on the property that has been in his family since 1965.
    1. The garden house is about 1200 sqft.
    2. The carriage house is 2-story, about 3300 sqft, and the driveway actually goes through it.
    3. The 3-story main house close to 6000 sqft.
    Public records show that the property consists of 2.81 acres (according to Robert it is almost 4 acres (there are probably additional lots with separate parcel numbers)

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