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Church construction active in SD area, but few religious property sales

While 2012 wasn’t exactly a banner year for church construction and sales, there are plans moving forward in San Diego County and Southern California.

San Diego-based domusstudio, well-known for its religious facility designs, is currently the architect for about 15 projects for religious institutions including local and out-of-town projects.

One is the expansion of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church along Carmel Mountain Road in Rancho Penasquitos. San Diego-based Pacific Building Group is the general contractor.

The project now under way includes $3 million for what was the pre-construction first phase, and the second phase that began the grading and construction, including a landscaped ‘Hospitality Grove’ area and plaza.

The $6.3 million third and final phase will finish the project, including construction 22,000-square-foot new steel frame and stucco sanctuary.

“This will have room for 1,071," said domusstudio founder Lewis Dominy. 'It’s about double what they have now.”

Other features are the baptismal font featuring unique mosaic tile handmade by Peruvian artists, a 50-foot-tall bell tower containing a small chapel at its base, and hand carved arched doors, also by the Peruvians.

“We’re also redoing the sanctuary at St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church (off Navajo Road in San Diego),” Dominy said.

Domus also designed the just-dedicated the Malibu Presbyterian Church north of Los Angeles that, along with a nearly 400-capacity sanctuary, has had nine high tech monitors installed for its multi-media presentations.

The firm also designed a sports field for St. Therese of Carmel in Carmel Valley and a children’s classroom for the Solana Beach Presbyterian Church that Dominy expects will be completed by the end of this year.

Valley Community Church in the Valley Center area is in the midst of planning a new church on 20 acres at Cole Grade and Fruitvale roads on an old nursery property near the church’s existing location.

Designed by Pacific Cornerstone Architects, the project has named Erickson Hall Construction has its general contractor, but construction is at least a year away.

Michael Adams, Valley’s church administrator, said plans for the property call for a sanctuary with a capacity of about 400 people, a pre-school, and a structure that will host the church’s youth programs.

Adams said the church acquired the Cole Grade Road property in 2000, and added the project should be built for $5 million with the aid of donations from parishioners and others.

“We’re working on closing a funding gap right now,” Adams said, adding that he doesn’t expect to have to borrow any money to finance the project.

If all goes as Adams hopes, construction could begin in mid- or late 2014, with completion about eight months after that.

The Rock Church, which already has complexes at Liberty Station and on La Costa Meadows Drive in San Marcos, has completed demolition work for a planned 26,000-square-foot sanctuary/teaching facility on a former Michael's site at 810 Jackman St. in El Cajon.

“This will have the full HD technology experience,” said David Cooper, Rock Church director of multi-site operations.
Cooper said the church’s sanctuary will have a 750-person capacity, whil the complex will feature classrooms for general instruction and children’s ministry.

The projected $2.7 million development is being designed by San Diego architect Charles Field, of Field Architectural Corp. Molinar Construction of Point Loma, is the general contractor.

Plans are also evolving for a new St. John Garabed Armenian Church of San Diego, close to its existing complex along El Camino Real in the Carmel Valley area.

Along with the sanctuary, plans call for a library and cultural center, classrooms, athletic buildings and outdoor meeting areas, along with an Armenian memorial park.

St. John Garabad needs a conditional use permit before it can proceed with development.

If The CoStar Group (Nasdaq: CSGP) is any indication, large religious properties don’t often sell, at least not here.

The most recent local religious facility sale of any size -- by Costar’s accounts -- appears to be that of the Crosspointe Baptist Church on 2.58 acres, at 13230 Pomerado Road in Poway, that was reportedly on the market for 267 days.

Mesa View Baptist Church, of Rancho Bernardo, acquired the church for $2.95 million on Dec. 20 of last year.

The 18,398-square-foot church property features a 300-seat sanctuary, two apartments, a school building with a playground, administrative offices and a fellowship hall/chapel building.

Eric Knowles and Robert Fletcher, of Cushman & Wakefield’s newly-established Religious Facilities Group, handled the transaction for the seller.

The buyer was represented by Gary Friesen and L. Thomas Morgan, of Lee & Associates.

A $1.76 million sale to Potter’s House Christian Fellowship involved what had been the Korean United Methodist Church of San Diego, at 3520 Mount Acadia Blvd. in the Rose Canyon area in May 2012.

The only other sale CoStar cited has being worth more than $1 million in 2012 was that of The Movement Church, which paid $2.8 million to acquire a 19,883-square-foot former commercial building being used for a church at 1609 Capalina Road in San Marcos.

A new Cushman & Wakefield report stated when church properties were sold in Southern California last year, they averaged $160-per-square-foot, off slightly from the 2011 figure of $167.

San Diego checked in with an average of $138 last year, a modest increase from the $127-per-square-foot figure recorded in 2011.

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