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Fuller Theological Seminary leaving Pasadena and putting campus up for sale

Fuller Theological Seminary leaving Pasadena and putting campus up for sale
The 70-year-old Fuller Theological Seminary will sell its 13-acre campus in Pasadena and move to Pomona. (Ringo H.W. Chiu / For The Times)

Fuller Theological Seminary will move to Pomona by 2021, freeing its 13-acre campus in Pasadena's central business district to be sold for new uses and development.

Fuller is acquiring downtown land in the eastern San Gabriel Valley city where it will build a more accessible campus with lower surrounding housing costs, acting provost Mari Clements said Tuesday.

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The move "will make a Fuller education in reach of more people," she said.

The seminary will leave behind a hodgepodge of scholastic, commercial and residential buildings spread among six blocks near the intersection of Los Robles Avenue and Walnut Street in Pasadena.

The current campus evolved over decades, starting in 1947 when the school founded by evangelist Charles E. Fuller, host of the radio broadcast "Old Fashioned Revival Hour," opened with 39 students.

Fuller has more than 3,000 students pursuing graduate degrees in theology, intercultural studies and psychology, with 1,200 students studying on the Pasadena campus.

Another Pasadena theological school campus has already been sold and partially redeveloped.

Ambassador College, operated by the Worldwide Church of God on the western edge of Old Pasadena, was sold in pieces more than a decade ago to residential developers and to HRock Church and Maranatha High School.

The Fuller campus is known for its collection of stately houses in the Ford Place Historic District, a residential subdivision created in 1902 that was intended to be a "showplace" residential neighborhood, according to the National Park Service.

The buildings in the Ford Place landmark district are essentially protected, real estate broker Chalvis Evans of CBRE said, but other buildings on the campus could be repurposed or razed and replaced with new structures.

The campus also includes 248 apartments, a newly constructed library, administrative offices, an auditorium and lecture halls.

The campus will come to market within 30 days, Evans said. It could be sold to a single buyer such as another school or company, or to multiple buyers including real estate developers.

Potential buyers could include businesses in healthcare, technology, engineering and co-working that want to occupy their own buildings, Evans said.

Developers also may want to build offices, apartments, condominiums, stores or hotels, he said. The campus is across from the Westin Pasadena hotel.

No price for the campus has been set, Fuller spokesman Britt Vaughan said.

Fuller did not reveal the site of its new home in Pomona because the property acquisition is not yet complete, Vaughan said.

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In addition to moving to a less expensive area, the deal offers the school the opportunity to build a modern campus.

"We're really excited about having a campus that lends itself to more collaboration and integration between our students," Clements said.

If the Pasadena campus is sold in the near future, Fuller will lease it back and occupy it as a tenant until the school moves in 2021 to its new location in Pomona, she said.

Twitter: @rogervincent

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