A large Altadena hillside complex that became a subject of intense community debate last year has been sold to a local gospel church for more than $3 million.
The buyer of the property, the Church of Altadena, claims an 800-member parish and operates a small elementary school and Bible college at its present site in the 700 block of West Altadena Drive. The church will move all operations to the new complex while continuing to use the present facility as a community center.
Church officials said escrow on the hillside property, the former La Vina Hospital site, is expected to close in two weeks.
The abandoned complex on a picturesque 190-acre parcel near Angeles National Forest became a topic of debate when its owners attempted to sell it to the Church of Scientology.
Council Opposed Move
Calling the Church of Scientology a dangerous cult, longtime residents banded together and succeeded in getting the Altadena Town Council to oppose the group's move. In the face of widespread community opposition, the group backed out of the purchase in October.
Town Council members said they were pleased that the owner of the vacant complex, Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena, had found a buyer after a 17-month search. But they said they knew little about the Church of Altadena. Huntington and the church said the sale price was more than $3 million.
"Most of us have never heard of it," council President Frank Bridal said.
Harold Andrews, the pastor, founded the "full gospel" church in 1980. He said the parish is 95% black and includes several prominent businessmen. Andrews said the church has long been interested in the property but was unable until now to secure sufficient financing.
Aided by 'Rich' Friend
"We have a very rich Jewish friend who supports our church," Andrews said. "He happens to be Jesus, the son of God. Through him, we've been able to get the needed financial support from the community."
Andrews said he planned to move his church to the new property and use the present facility for a "life center."
"A life center will offer something to improve the quality of life in the community, such as job training and drug and alcohol counseling," Andrews said.
County officials said the church has not filed for the conditional-use permit needed before it can open a new facility.
"We don't see any problem with getting the permit," Andrews said. "We feel very sure that there won't be any conflict with the community. Our church is of the community. We're not coming from the outside."