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West Covina housing project to be built on church property

By Juliette Funes, Staff Writer

West Covina housing project to be built on church property

WEST COVINA – After being vacant for the last several years, a Lutheran Church elementary school and playground on Valinda Avenue will soon be demolished to make room for a neighborhood of 19 single-family homes.

The Planning Commission earlier this month approved plans for Irvine-based developer Brandywine Homes to build 19 two-story homes adjacent to Immanuel First Lutheran Church at 512 S. Valinda Ave. The new gated housing community will be built on a 2.3-acre site that church officials have agreed to sell to the real estate developer.

The City Council is expected to take final action on the project at a public hearing tentatively scheduled for Jan. 15.

“It looks like a great project for the area,” Commissioner Paul Blackburn said. “Hopefully the prices will be good and we’ll have 19 new families in the area.”

The church has been actively trying to sell a portion of its 5.1-acre land that includes a vacant pre-school through eighth-grade school, snack bar, walkways, grass athletic field and a sandlot with playground equipment.

The site also contains trees that would be removed as part of the proposed residential project.

The sanctuary and the parking lot leased out to the East Valley Community Health Center will remain intact.

“We had to close the school for various reasons and we felt it was time to close it permanently and better serve the community in other ways,” Immanuel First Lutheran Church

Pastor Mason Okubo said. “It’s just been sitting there, so we thought, let’s develop it with some nice homes.”

Brandywine Homes is proposing to build the homes – which will either be 2,150-square-feet or 2,430-square-feet, including attached two-car garages – in several phases.

Two model homes will be built, with units being constructed as they’re sold, company official Kye Evans said.

The project will include extra parking for guests and private open space for homeowners, he said.

According to Evans, the cost of the homes will range from the high $400,000s to low $500,000s. It will take about 21 months for the project to be fully built out.

“When I see a project like this – and we’ve had them before – I go for the pluses and minus,” Commissioner David Steward said. “With this project, it comes out real well on the plus side. I don’t see any problem at all.”