At the Jan. 17 Peninsula Community Planning Board meeting, Joe Haeussler from Pendulum Property Partners, along with Ashleigh Glod and Victoria LaHood from 828 Venue Management, fielded audience questions about North Chapel.
Under “cross-examination” by audience members, they admitted their companies did initially advertise the chapel for multiple uses, including restaurant space. But they added that was done to test the market to see what potential users might possibly be interested in utilizing the facility once it’s repurposed.
There were numerous questions from Peninsulans regarding what uses would be acceptable to 828 Venue for the chapel, which until recently had been leased out to two Catholic congregations on Sundays.
One audience member presented a photograph of another facility run by 828 Venue. It showed an open room, which led some other residents present at the meeting to speculate on whether North Chapel’s pews would be replaced during its upcoming refit, and if the historicity of the structure would be respected.
New ownership reps reiterated that the chapel is designed “to have multiple denominations worship there on Sundays.” The 828 Venue reps pointed out they have long experience in hosting weddings adding the chapel “is a pretty good fit.”
“We currently operate eight (wedding) venues in six different states,” said Glod of 828 Venue.
Wedding planner LaHood said the chapel would be repurposed to host numerous wedding and corporate events throughout the year.
“There is no formal plan yet that has been submitted to the City or approved,” pointed out Haeussler of Pendulum, adding, “We plan to respect the historicity of building. We’ll be back (to PCPB) later (with more details).”
“I’m appalled by the way this community has been treated on this issue the last six months,” said PCPB board member Don Sevrens, who noted the precise plan governing Liberty Station spells out what uses are allowable in the chapel.
“Many people who served this country went to the chapel as a place of worship,” pointed out PCPB board member Fred Kosmo. “It’s important that it stay as a chapel.”
Noting the two Catholic groups that had been using the chapel have had their leases terminated, Kosmo asked, “What happens to them?”
“We did offer them a renewal,” answered Haeussler.
Ron Slayen, a tenant in Liberty Station’s Arts District, pressed Pendulum and 828 Venue on whether chapel pews could or would be removed.
“There are no plans approved by the City,” responded Haeussler.
Elaine Boland, widow of late Rear Admiral Bruce Boland, testified that, “North Chapel will (soon) be 100 years old. It’s an integral part of our Naval history. It was a place of worship for thousands of Naval personnel who served. It was intended to be a place for worship, prayer and peace. It will lose its identity if you remove the pews.”
Both San Diego City Council President Pro Tem Barbara Bry, and San Diego Congressman Scott Peters, have called upon the City to investigate proposed alteration of North Chapel for non-religious uses.