Fuller Theological Seminary Campus Moves Closer to Having New Owners

Pasadena advocacy group makes recommendations on future uses, preservation of historic property

Published : Sunday, December 2, 2018 | 5:36 AM

A number of potential buyers and their bids for the Fuller Theological Seminary campus, which went up for sale in May, are actively being considered by Fuller administration as the campus moves closer to divestiture.

CBRE Group’s Laurie Lustig-Bower, who is working with Fuller on the sale (or sales), said “We have received a significant amount of interest combined for the Fuller portfolio campus, and its corresponding component groupings from a wide variety of buyers. Fuller is currently reviewing all the information it has received at this time.”

The Seminary will be moving to a new campus in Pomona, it was announced last spring. The new campus will feature state-of-the-art facilities designed to serve both traditional and online learning along with smarter centralized administration. The relocation to Pomona is expected to take place in three years.

Meanwhile, preservation advocates Pasadena Heritage, have sent a four-page recommendation letter to the City as well as the Fuller leadership and CBRE, with their concerns, as the campus gets closer to a sale.

“We are interested in seeing the historic buildings preserved as they change hands and have new uses in the future, but we also see the campus as a critically important central Pasadena place that deserves careful attention,” the letter stated. “Our attention is focused on the properties between E. Walnut St. and Union St.”

Following a meeting September 12, which included representatives of the Barcelona, The Blinn House Foundation, Downtown Pasadena Neighborhood Association (DPNA), the Olivewood Village development, Pasadena Presbyterian Church, Playhouse District Association (PDA), University Club of Pasadena, and Pasadena Women’s City Club, the group drafted the letter with the intention of “assisting Fuller Theological Seminary, CBRE Group, City of Pasadena staff and decision-makers, and new property owners by articulating, at this early stage, what the concerns, wishes, and expectations are from a community perspective.”

Pasadena Heritage first recommended that all 11 “contributing features in the Ford Place Historic District be retained and preserved in place.”

The Ford Place Historic District was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2009. under Criteria A and C.

“If contributing buildings are adaptively reused, new uses should require minimal change,” the letter stated, “to distinctive materials, features, spaces, and spatial relationships of the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards.”

Pasadena Heritage also recommended that the historic multi-family residential buildings along Ford Place should continue to be used as housing, either as rental units or perhaps converted to condominiums.

The large, former single-family homes that contribute to the Ford Place Historic District, currently used primarily as offices, would best be converted back into housing, or could be used as professional offices, the letter recommended.

In addition, said the recommendation, “All new construction should be compatible with, and retain the integrity of, the Ford Place Historic District, per with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards, especially
Standards 9 and 10.”

The recommendation also noted that the Orelia K. Hines House (Carnell Hall) is identified as a “non-contributor” to the Ford Place Historic District because it was moved to its present location in 1984 from the southeast corner of Walnut and Oakland to accommodate the construction of the Fuller School of Psychology in 1986.

“We believe,” said the recommendation, “the house merits designation as a contributor to the District or as an individual resource, as it was built in 1912, within the period of significance, is associated with Ford Place, and is the work of master architect, Sylvanus Marston.”

Payton Hall, located adjacent to the Ford Place Historic District, may also qualify as an individual historic resource and requires evaluation, said Pasadena Heritage.

As the recommendation noted, the building was constructed in 1953 and named for the family of Grace Payton Fuller, wife of Charles E. Fuller who founded the seminary in 1947.

Pasadena Heritage also recommended to the City that “An explanation of the regulations and development standards that apply to the properties, as well as the anticipated processes (or options) should be provided by the City to the public and stakeholders, including the continuation or dissolution of the Fuller Master Plan and Development Agreement.”

Campus properties, said the recommendation, which are vacant or improved with non-historic buildings that may not be retained, and situated along E. Walnut St., N. Los Robles Ave., and Union St., “represent prime real estate and likely development sites. These parcels will require careful planning and due consideration of the adjacent historic resources.”

Payton Hall and the David Allan Hubbard Library, wrote Pasadena Heritage, are situated adjacent to the Ford Place Historic District but “may be reused or replaced, depending on the feasibility and appropriateness of future proposals, and only if the former is evaluated and found not to qualify as an individual historic resource. These sites are particularly sensitive.”

With regard to green and open spaces, the recommendation noted:

  • All sidewalks, streets, and open spaces should remain open and accessible to the public.
  • The existing landscaped central campus area, in particular, should be retained, as it functions as an “urban oasis” and is a contributing feature to the Ford Place Historic District.
  • New landscape plans should be approached holistically and be designed to integrate and provide continuity of setting for the various buildings and uses.
  • Existing mature trees should be retained. Healthy, mature plants should also be retained to the extent feasible. New trees and plants should be thoughtfully chosen and water-wise.
  • The “Prayer Garden” and open space on the Herkimer Arms site facing Union St. have become a valued open space for campus residents, nearby residents, and the community. The future of this property will be particularly sensitive, and its use should be carefully considered.
  • Important view sheds should be retained, and even enhanced.

Speaking to the need for community involvement, the presence of other institutions within the general campus area must be respected, said the recommendation, including the Women’s City Club and University Club, in particular, and “cooperation and coordination should encouraged.”

In addition, the recommendation said, “Neighboring residential property owners and tenants should be acknowledged and considered when planning future uses for former campus properties. Engagement and collaboration should be encouraged with all neighboring property owners and with other stakeholders, including Pasadena Heritage, the Downtown Pasadena Neighborhood Association (DPNA), and the Playhouse District Association
(PDA), with consideration given to their perspectives.”


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