Consortium to buy Ambassador upper campus
PASADENA — The Worldwide Church of God is selling the last piece of its former Ambassador College campus to the same consortium that bought the Ambassador Auditorium and surrounding administrative buildings last May, church officials confirmed Friday.
An internal memo sent to Worldwide Church of God employees on Thursday says the 17-acre upper campus went into escrow this week with a group that includes Maranatha High School, Harvest Rock Church and Sunrise Senior Living.
“The buyer’s ultimate plans are not yet finalized and the Church will probably remain in use of some upper campus buildings until we move our entire operations to our new facility in Glendora,’ the memo says.
The upper campus, as it is commonly known, borders Orange Grove Boulevard and includes many of the historic mansions and gardens that preservationists and neighbors fought to save when the Worldwide Church of God was planning a housing development on the site.
Bernie Schnippert, finance director for the Worldwide Church of God, acknowledged the contents of the memo on Friday. He declined to state the selling price but said escrow is scheduled to close in January.
“We are optimistic everything will play out according to the contract,’ Schnippert said.
Details of the pending sale remain cloaked by a confidentiality agreement. Statements made by those close to the deal indicate a fourth party may be involved in the transaction, but representatives from the three known buyers refused to comment.
“I can’t comment on anything,’ said David Poole, president of the Maranatha High School board of directors.
Wayne Sant, vice president of Sunrise, said there were “other players involved’ but would not elaborate.
Harvest Rock Pastor Che Ahn would only say, “Harvest Rock is playing a very low-key role in this.’
The consortium calls itself Ambassador Coalition Partners.
Mike Vogler, president of Save South Orange Grove, welcomed news of the sale but warned that if the buyers want to build a “massive’ housing project on the acreage “it is going to be unpleasant for everyone.’
Vogler was also troubled by the lack of disclosure about the buyers and their intentions for the property.
Save South Orange Grove fought an earlier plan to develop the Ambassador campus into housing, saying it would destroy the surrounding neighborhoods and clog the roads with traffic.
Neighbors expressed some relief when the church sold the Lower Campus, which borders St. John Avenue since the buyers said they had no plans to develop housing and would preserve many of the historic buildings, including the Ambassador Auditorium.
Maranatha is converting the mothballed classrooms for use by its high school students. Harvest Rock took the Ambassador Auditorium for its house of worship and has reopened the renowned concert hall to public performances.
The Virginia-based Sunrise Senior Living recently announced plans to demolish the administrative building on the lower campus. The company will build in its place a 300,000-square-foot senior care center with between 170 to 190 housing units.