Readers may have heard about the Downtown Specific Plan, but have they heard about the Downtown Specific Plan within the Downtown Specific Plan for the Sierra Madre Congregational Church? If you aren't a member of the SMCC, you probably aren't aware of the tens of thousands of square feet of renovation and additional space to be built over the next three years, establishing the SMCC as the preeminent Evangelical Christian Church in the San Gabriel Valley.
Reminiscent of Herbert W. Armstrong's former World Wide Church of God's site in Pasadena (Ambassador College), SMCC envisions a campus which would include dormitories, classrooms, assembly halls, a gymnasium, and commercial operations to support thousands of Evangelical Congregationalists and its worldwide missions.
Favorable constructability assurances by the Planning Department led SMCC to sign a 4,700 square foot sub-lease with R/C Modeler. This space will be used as classroom and assembly spaces for its SMCC Ministries. Also planned along the boulevard are a canteen, coffee shop, Christian news stand, florist, and shops, as well as specialty boutiques offering handicrafts from the many countries in which the church operates. Local Christian merchants have been approached about relocating to the soon to be built SMCC retail complex. Help Wanted ads have been placed and interviews have been initiated.
According to Tower Notes, October 20, 2005, a publication of the SMCC, construction has already begun:
The first smaller projects have already begun starting with the seismic upgrade and remodeling of the Hospitality House. A new kitchen is being installed, and new doors added for convenient access to class rooms and office space. Serving windows will enable snacks to be dispensed from the kitchen to people outside ... Also underway is the engineering work for relocation of power lines and the placement of other utilities that will be needed as we build out the north side of our campus ... The next visible project will be the remodeling of the New Life Center and the addition of a second floor over the one-story parts of the building to add several new children's classrooms. Besides adding classroom space, this project will make the building stronger, provide for more usable spaces in the existing areas, and provide safer exiting from the upstairs.
SMCC claims to have raised more than $3,500,00 of the estimated $7,000,000 (for Phase I) necessary to build up and out on both the north and south sides of Sierra Madre Boulevard, and east along the boulevard.
Kurt Christiansen, former Director of Development for the City of Sierra Madre, reviewed SMCC's master plan (called a Specific Plan by the City) prior to leaving to work for the City of Yorba Linda, and according to Ken Cromeenes, SMCC Business Administrator, Kurt indicated that once the City had passed the Downtown Specific Plan, it would generally mean a green light for SMCC to build under the expedited approval process. The Downtown Specific Plan is expected to be approved by the end of this month.
Be very clear -- once the Downtown Specific Plan is approved, the Master Plan/Specific Plan for the expanded SMCC campus is automatically approved. That is the meaning of "expidited approval process." No planning, no public hearing, no Planning Commission, and no City Council appeal.
(More tomorrow ..)