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Century-old Psychic Temple coming back to life in Long Beach

November 18, 2012|By Roger Vincent
  • The three-story Psychic Temple building in Long Beach.
The three-story Psychic Temple building in Long Beach. (InterTrend )

The Psychic Temple, a long-abandoned Long Beach landmark that is one of the city’s oldest commercial structures, will be converted to office space as redevelopment attracts new residents and businesses to downtown.

Advertising agency InterTrend will start making improvements this week on the brick building at 224 E. Broadway near Long Beach Boulevard. It is converting the top two floors that were formerly residential into offices for the firm and preparing the ground floor and basement for retail tenants such as a restaurant.

The property in a formerly blighted part of downtown has been a headache for Long Beach officials, who purchased it for the city in 2000 in the hope they could find a developer willing to perform badly needed renovations.

Because it was an official landmark that couldn’t be razed, it had a negative assessed value of $350,000, said Julia Huang, chief executive of InterTrend. Her Long Beach company agreed to fix the property and recently took title after paying the city $1.

“It was truly debilitated, but we just fell in love,” Huang said. Local developer J.R. van Dijs Inc. is performing the makeover, which will cost about $2 million.

The Romanesque Revival-style brick building was completed in 1905 by former Baptist preacher W.R. Price, founder of a doctrine he called the New or Practical Psychology. It’s motto was “Health and happiness for all.”

Price raised money from members to build the headquarters, sometimes referred to as the Psychological Temple. Rifts among cult members soon arose and Price’s name was chiseled off the building’s cornerstone after he lost control of the society. In 1911 the building was sold at auction.

For decades the building’s upstairs floors were used as a hotel and the property is called the American Hotel on the city’s list of historic landmarks.

InterTrend will move in with about 80 employees in about a year. It will leave an Ocean Boulevard high-rise to be part of a more pedestrian-oriented downtown, Huang said.

“Long Beach is going through an evolution of street culture,” she said. “That was very appealing to us.”

Clients of Asian-oriented InterTrend include Toyota AT&T, State Farm and Disney, Huang said.

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