Spirits Run High at Groundbreaking of Immanuel Senior Housing at Former Immanuel Church in Bluff Heights

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Photos by Asia Morris.

The City of Long Beach, The Long Beach Community Investment Company (LBCIC), Thomas Safran & Associates and Clifford Beers Housing celebrated the groundbreaking Friday of Immanuel Senior Housing, a soon-to-be three-story, 25-unit rental apartment complex that will provide affordable, quality housing for low- and very low-income seniors.

DSC 0834 900x602“It really took all of us to really get to this point,” said President Andrew Gross of Thomas Safran & Associates as he beamed out at the audience, “And where are we today? We are at the point where we’ve done the asbestos remediation and we are getting ready to proceed in earnest for the adaptive reuse of this terrific beautiful church that needs a little love and repurpose it into affordable senior housing.”

According to Gross, in all, the project will be approximately a “$12.1 million investment into this fine community of Long Beach.” According to real estate developer, Thomas Safran & Associates the projected completion date of the project will be July of 2016.

The former Immanuel Church, located on the corner of Obispo and 3rd, will be reused, revitalized and restored to include 24 senior apartments, and one on-site manager’s unit, with the design to include the preservation of the building’s historic facade, the sanctuary space and existing pipe organ and other characteristic elements of the building’s architecture.

DSC 0838 900x602Residents will have a community room, gym and laundry facilities at their disposal and will also have access to parking, a library, senior services, adult education and health and awareness programs at little or no cost. The 1920s Craftsman home to the north of the building will be relocated to Termino Ave. and Anaheim Blvd. for a family to enjoy, providing the space for 13 future residents to park their cars.

Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal thanked Jane Galloway, former pastor of Immanuel Church for directing the City’s attention to the potential revitalization of the nearly 100-year-old building, which, according to the City, hasn’t been used since 2009. What was once the heart of this community as a church, she said, will now breathe economic energy into the local community as a different kind of establishment.

DSC 0846 900x602“Adaptive reuse of this building, will provide a secure, modern comfortable living space for seniors, with limited income while remaining true to the site's original architecture. That’s critical. Maintaining the original architecture, providing an opportunity for folks in the twilight of their lives to be able to live with dignity and pride and also contribute back to the community. I am hoping and I believe that’s what we’re doing here.”

This is “A much needed project that is going to provide affordable housing for our seniors and restore energy to the former Immanuel Church,” Lowenthal said enthusiastically.

DSC 0836 900x602John Thomas, Chair of LBCIC and President of the Bluff Heights Neighborhood Association, who helped guide the process of getting the project approved by the Cultural Heritage Commission and several other necessary steps, said, “What a great place to be thankful, in a church, in a sanctuary[...] Long Beach is on the cutting edge of what preservations are doing nationally and that’s saving these wonderful structures that are so significant in our communities by adaptively reusing them, giving them further purpose and opportunity to serve their community. Affordable housing is key.”

“This is a vital need in our community in Long Beach and certainly here in Bluff Heights where we’re going to be able to welcome 25 new neighbors to our wonderful historic district,” he concluded.

Cristian Ahumada, Executive Director, Clifford Beers Housing, said succinctly, “Affordable housing doesn’t have to be unimaginative, it doesn’t have to be a square box. It can be beautiful.”

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