By Besha Rodell
By Patrick Range McDonald
By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
Andrade says the city is required to charge rent for religious events, "so it couldn't be construed that the city was supporting a religious organization."
Adrian Scott Fine, director of advocacy for the L.A. Conservancy, which is not involved in the La Plaza battle, says, "Generations of people have connections with this church, and that's important to the community. If it were 'repurposed,' that would be unfortunate."
She points to the Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion in Manhattan's Chelsea district, designed by Richard Upjohn, one of the 19th century's premier architects. In the 1970s, the church was reinvented as Limelight nightclub. Now it's been reworked with high-end boutiques.
"There's even a lingerie store in the old church," Campagna says. "It's really sad and really weird. I hope the City of Los Angeles wholeheartedly decides to respect the original integrity of the design (of La Plaza United Methodist Church). The best thing for any building is to maintain its original use, particularly a church."
Andrade says the church will always remain a church.
"No nightclub. No mall," he pledges.
The state forcibly took ownership of the church, the land beneath it and 44 surrounding acres in 1956 through eminent domain, then turned all properties over to the city. The city then leased the church to the congregation for $1 a year for 50 years — ending in 2006.
Since then, the church has fought for a renewed lease in the face of stiff opposition from Andrade and the nine-member El Pueblo Board of Commissioners, which wants to maintain greater control.
The city's proposal insists that if the congregation wants to use the church for an event of any kind, it must get permission from Andrade and El Pueblo's "special events" office.
"Does that mean we have to ask Mr. Andrade's permission to hold a staff meeting?" Hayes wonders. "We don't know."
Recently, City Councilman Huizar had to step in, ordering Andrade to unlock the church after Andrade's employees locked it and parishioners faced a shutout on a Sunday morning. But according to Barron, an aide to Mayor Villaraigosa told her the mayor didn't want to touch this hot potato that's getting hotter.
The latest advice to the church congregation from Huizar? "Don't sign anything you can't live with."
Reach the writer at email@example.com.
Sounds to me like the city should not have taken the church through eminent domain all those years ago. Maybe they should have an application process to get it back since it does not seem that the city actually has a use for it.
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