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Legacy Pulls Out of Planned Pasadena Development

April 30, 2002|JESUS SANCHEZ | TIMES STAFF WRITER

After years of delays and growing community opposition, Legacy Partners has abandoned plans to build a massive residential development on the site of the former Ambassador College in Pasadena, the property owner said Monday.

The Worldwide Church of God, which owns the 48-acre campus and other nearby property in western Pasadena, said that Foster City-based Legacy had decided against renewing a contract with the church to purchase the property and develop it into about 1,700 housing units.

"In the end, Legacy found the twin pressures of time and financial investment just too much to make the deal work for their bottom line," Bernard Schnippert, director of finance and planning for the church, said in a statement. "This is too bad since the plan is a good one."

The church said it plans "to move forward with the plan without Legacy" but also indicated that it would not abandon other options to develop the property, located near the booming Old Pasadena shopping and entertainment district. Legacy executives could not be reached for comment.

Pasadena City Councilman Steve Madison, who represents the Ambassador College area, said that he and other city officials were notified of the developer's decision Monday afternoon.

He said the main reason for Legacy decision was that the developer and the church were unable to finalize terms. "There were contractual obligations that were not satisfied," he said.

The project, one of the largest ever proposed for Pasadena, has undergone major changes since Legacy first announced its intention to develop the property about three years ago when the economy and commercial real estate markets were booming.

It was first envisioned as a mixed-use development with a hotel, a million square feet of office space and housing. But, as the market for office space and hotel rooms weakened, Legacy shifted gears and focused on housing as home prices and rents continue to rise across the area.

Despite the initial support of city leaders, opposition to the project has grown over concerns about density, traffic and urban design.

The church closed the Pasadena campus in 1995 as revenue and church membership fell. The church's property holdings included the main campus on the west side of the 710 freeway and numerous parcels south of Old Pasadena. The campus includes several historic buildings and the Ambassador Auditorium.

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