The partners, RM/d and UPMS, bought the church because they fell in love with the building. Certainly, it is in a great location and Pasadena is a very strong market, but it was their love for the building that ultimately convinced them to buy it.
The story of The Sanctuary starts in 1885 when Pasadena's early settlers sought to provide a church for its recent influx of new residents. They embarked on a massive building project that yielded the First Congressional Church (FCC): A sturdy and historic structure with undeniable beauty. This architectural gem was a place of worship and community for over 100 years. In 2018, the FCC decided that the asset was too big for the reduced community attendance, and agreed to sell to RM/d and UPMS.
RM/d is a partner and co-developer for the project.
The most eye-catching aspect of the building is the sanctuary space, characterized by its flying buttresses, stained glass windows, and soaring, open public space. This 82,000 square foot structure doesn’t end there, though. With classrooms, kitchens, and scores of other rooms, the possibilities for redevelopment are endless. The location of this site makes it even more appealing. It located near Old Town Pasadena and right across the street from a highly successful Westin Hotel. It’s proximity to critical cultural centers like the Pasadena Civic Center, the famous Caltech University, the Rose Bowl, Art Center College of Design, and more. The combination of the building itself and the area surrounding it makes The Sanctuary a project with incredible potential and promise.
Those who appreciate the history and culture of Pasadena should breathe a sigh of relief. The partners are committed to respecting the historical and cultural elements of the building. They seek to complement the existing structure with new uses that that are in keeping with the legacy of the building while providing the economic vitality needed to renovate and preserve it. Right now, they are in still the planning phase, so nothing is set in stone. However, they are considering ideas like holding events in the sanctuary space, a reception area in the chapel, a modern fitness facility in the existing gym, and loft-style apartments or hotel rooms in the many unused spaces.