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Church Has Post-Industrial Vision for Old Boeing Space

Fullerton’s Eastside Christian Church is nearing completion of what looks to be one of Orange County’s largest commercial deals of the year.

The ministry recently disclosed that it had entered into an agreement to buy a 20-acre Anaheim property with two buildings on East Miraloma Avenue. The parcel previously was part of Boeing Co.’s sprawling operations in the city.

The site, currently owned by Sacramento-based developer Panattoni Development Co., would be converted to hold a new campus for Eastside Christian, one of OC’s fastest growing churches.

The Business Journal reported on industry speculation about a proposed deal for the old Boeing site in September. At the time, a deal had yet to be formally announced by the church, which also is looking to sell its existing 8.2-acre campus next to California State University, Fullerton.

Since then, Eastside Christian officials have told church members about the potential deal. The church’s board and congregation last month voted to approve the deal.

The deal would be financed through the sale of the existing campus, lease income from the new site, and fundraising.

Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but it appears to be at a substantial discount to the $38 million price-tag previously given to the buildings.

“Thank God for that,” said Eastside senior pastor Gene Appel, in remarks about the deal to church members.

Other older industrial buildings in North OC have been trading from $50 per square foot to $70 per square foot range of late, which would put Eastside’s likely purchase price under the $30 million mark.

It will cost between $20 million and $25 million to upgrade the site, according to documents filed on the church’s website.

The purchase sales agreement is scheduled to end this month.

The buildings on the land are on the corner of Miraloma Avenue and Miller Street. They total about 400,000 square feet and have been empty for a few years.

A two-story building at the site, totaling about 200,000 square feet, would be converted into the primary worship center for the church. An auditorium built into the site would be able to hold more than 3,000 people.

The other building is a six-story office, one of the tallest structures in the largely industrial Anaheim Canyon Corridor area. The ministry still is studying potential uses for the 200,000 square foot office building, including space for staff offices, a chapel, or retail or office space that the church could lease.

Officials of the church said the office building’s height will give Eastside more visibility in the area, in any case.

Getting community visibility hasn’t been much of a problem for Eastside during the past few years. In 2007, Eastside averaged about 2,200 worshippers for its weekend services. Now, it gets about 4,300 worshippers every weekend.

Officials said earlier this year a 15-year growth plan was exceeded in a matter of months.

The church has expanded to more than 5,000 members—roughly half the size of Garden Grove’s Crystal Cathedral Ministries—since its 1962 founding.

Fullerton’s Eastside Christian School, which is affiliated with the church and serves students from preschool through high school, isn’t planning to move to the former Boeing site but is looking at other locations.

Assuming the deal is completed as planned, redevelopment efforts are expected to kick off in the first half of 2011. The church hopes to move into the new space in late 2012.

The deal would take another big chunk of empty industrial space off the market in North OC.

Including the Eastside deal, more than 1 million square feet of large, empty buildings will have been leased or sold in the past few months, and another half-million square feet of space is expected to do the same soon, according to brokerage sources.

The buildings the church is looking to buy last traded hands in 2007, when Panattoni bought them from Boeing. It was part of a 61-acre office and land deal announced after the defense company decided to relocate much of its local operations to Huntington Beach.

Fourteen buildings, totaling about 1.5 million square feet, traded hands in the Boeing deal.

At the time the deal was struck, Panattoni and its financial partners were expected to head up a major campus-style redevelopment at the site, but pulled back as the real estate market weakened.

Panattoni also owns a 300,000-square-foot distribution center just off Miraloma Avenue, which it bought from Pacific Sunwear of California Inc. in 2008.

The developer is said to be nearing a big lease that would take that building off the market, according to real estate sources.

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Mark Mueller
Mark Mueller
Mark is the Editor-in-Chief of the Orange County Business Journal, one of the premier regional business newspapers in the country. He’s the fifth person to hold the editor’s position in the paper’s long history. He oversees a staff of about 15 people. The OCBJ is considered a must-read for area business executives. The print edition of the paper is the primary source of local news for most of the Business Journal’s subscribers, which includes most of OC’s major corporate and community players. Mark’s been with the paper since 2005, and long served as the real estate reporter for the paper, breaking hundreds of commercial and residential real estate stories. He took on the editor’s position in 2018.
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