PATH and Methodist Church Discussing Plan for WeHo’s Crescent Heights UMC

Crescent Heights United Methodist
Crescent Heights United Methodist

People Assisting the Homeless (PATH) is in discussions with the West District of the United Methodist Church about turning West Hollywood’s Crescent Heights United Methodist Church into low-income housing.

“The planning process for the project is very preliminary at this stage and will include affordable housing,” said Jeremy Sidell, chief development and communications officer for PATH. “The design and use will be decided by what has the most benefit for the community, and ultimately the community will help decide.”

“Any plans will include preservation of the historic elements of the building and its unique character,” Sidell said. He said that if the project moves forward, construction would not begin before the end of 2015.

“Our goal is to develop the property. Fix it up and see what God would have us to do there,” said the Rev. Kathey Wilborn, superintendent of the UMC west district.

The Crescent Heights church sits at the southeast corner of Fountain Avenue and Fairfax Avenue. It was closed in 2011 after being in operation for 97 years because of a constantly shrinking congregation.

The closing was acrimonious, with the church’s pastor, Scott Imler, refusing at first to leave the property. Imler accused Methodist leaders of closing the church because of his reputation as an advocate for legalizing marijuana and because it had a largely gay congregation. United Methodist leaders, however, noted that the church only had 39 active congregants, not enough to sustain it.

“They were not attracting people, they were not retaining people, not paying bills and the building was falling down around them,” church official Cedrick Bridgeforth said at the time. ”It was not a sustainable congregation.”

Crescent Heights UMC was known for its support of the LGBT community, serving as the initial home for groups such as Project Angel Food, which provides meals for AIDS patients, and the EAGLES Program, the LA Unified School District’s alternative LGBT high school. It also hosted addiction recovery support groups.

PATH has a contract with the City of West Hollywood under which it provides short term housing for homeless people. But its PATH Ventures also has developed a number of permanent housing projects for low-income people in partnership with private firms such as Related California, A Community of Friends, Clifford Beers Housing, Affirmed Housing Group and Century Housing.

 

 


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Thomas Grosser
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Thomas Grosser

Beautiful Architecture! That Building is telling a story, passed it on a Walk some months ago. You don’t need parking places to establish the kingdom of god, nor money, but certainly the Spirit of god.

Scott Tracy Imler
Guest

Simply put, the PATH / LA District UMC plan was a hostile corporate takeover of a high value property for which the 97 year old congregation held exclusive trust-free title – unusual for a denominational affiliate but more common than they care for anyone to know. The congregation’s redevelopment plan included most of the great ideas suggested here, including: preservation and restoration the historic and architectural integrity of the property; providing much needed supportive housing for at risk youth and young adults; AND the continuation of a century old fellowship deeply engaged in the work of community. The specifics of… Read more »

Scott Tracy Imler
Guest

As the last pastor of Crescent Heights Church I wanted share a couple of thoughts. Your story about PATH’s ambitions for the church property IS NOT NEWS. It was disclosed to the reporter of the POTHEAD PASTOR story featured in the premiere September 2011 issue of WeHoVille.com — but clearly lacked the tabloid pizzazz of purported reefer madness homophobes crushing a green-thumbed marriage equality advocate for his pathetic pew numbers. The fact is, a Memorandum of Understanding between PATH and the LA District UMC was signed nine-months before the local congregation was “discontinued in June of 2011. I learned about… Read more »

SaveWeho
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SaveWeho

@Alison. I was referring to other commercial buildings that could be renovated into homes instead of this church. I’ve seen church’s in other cities get turned into condos or units and its just not the same. This 100 year old church should be left alone and can be reused in some other way. And with no parking…how do you expect to put more people into an area that has no parking as it is? Do you think all low-income people dont have cars? And just some info on low-income housing. Its almost a farce. I’ve looked into it. The city… Read more »

kroeme
Guest

This building had been designated as an historical building, and it would be very difficult to tear it down legally. The avocado tree in front of the parsonage has been inspected by some tree society who said it was one of the oldest avocado trees in the city. Still puts out avocados. Preserve it, they must.

jimmypalmieri
Guest

I often wonder if those who have not spent time with people that have been put into PATH actually have an idea of what is going on. To say that people are judging by one persons article(BTW it was two) is like having your head in the sand. Sometimes it’s a good thing to actually go into the streets and buildings and see what is truly happening rather than reading reports. And I will not accept infetations of bedbugs as business as usual.

erik
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erik

I came to town 20 years ago and I remember seeing the church while driving on Fountain and I thought what a great building to remodel into a house. I went in a few times when they had AA meetings so I could look around. I even talked to a Realtor about seeing if it was for sale or if the owner would consider selling it. It has wonderful architectural value and its size would allow for almost unlimited interior redesign. I would not change a thing on the outside and leave as much of the interior as possible. I… Read more »

kab1200
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kab1200

Oh wow Eric, I hope they do not ruin Tara. I could not go, I was working, but I did give my opinion on the website. They need to leave it alone, intact. Don’t build anything on the property. OY!

kab1200
Guest
kab1200

The pastor of this church did nothing to protect the people holding meetings here. He let many homeless, and homophobic people live there. I don’t think this is a good idea. A friend of mine was attacked by a homeless man who was living there while setting up for a meeting. The pastor did nothing, and did not care, and continued to let the man live there. Not sure that is right. Who owns it anyway? Maybe some other church might want to set up shop there.

Rob Bergstein
Guest
Rob Bergstein

I’ll be watching this development closely, If done well, it could preserve & re-imagine a lovely historic building here on the Eastside. However I’d heard one plan was to preserve the “shell” of the building & the beautiful stained glass windows (good idea); use the space for multi purpose (another good idea), build affordable housing (another good idea) but that they would be micro-units (jury’s still out on that idea) with no parking spaces (horrible idea). So, I’ll be watching & listening. And for those of you concerned with PATH while relying on one article written by one former resident,… Read more »

Lyndia Lowy
Guest
Lyndia Lowy

The church may be cute, but it is NOT tiny! The property is much bigger than you think. It is perfectly possible to have good number of housing units on the property and still preserve the sanctuary, the social hall and some of the office space. Hopefully, PATH won’t attempt to “over-develop” the property with a 10-story building or other structures out of scale with the current buildings.

Professor Shivers
Guest
Professor Shivers

PATH has an awful reputation as reported in other publications recently. They’re the ones who need a facelift. Until that happens they should have NO expanded presence in WeHo.

Alison
Guest
Alison

Did any of you not read the sentence “the building was falling down around them,” church official Cedrick Bridgeforth said at the time. ” Personally, I think it is great that they will preserve the “historic elements”. But you can’t save every old building in town. It is a very cute building but this City needs low income housing. More and more, lower income people are being pushed out of town by the ever increasing rents. Is WeHo to be only for the rich? I hope not. I also hope that all of you don’t want that either. To Save… Read more »