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Sunlight Mission Conversion Gets Design Go-ahead

By Susan Reines
Staff Writer

August 18 -- The former Sunlight Mission Church, a prominent fixture on 14th Street with its bright blue paint and high gold cross, was cleared for remodel as a single-room occupancy building by the Architectural Review Board Monday evening.

Some board members expressed relief that the building many regarded as a gaudy stain on the streetscape would be getting a smooth new stucco façade when the structure is turned into an 18-unit apartment complex with retail on the ground floor.

Until recently, the building operated as a church and, in the bedrooms on the second floor, a shelter that gave refuge and meals to homeless families and battered women for $1 per week.

Photo by Susan Reines

The remodel, which will add 700-square-feet of ground floor commercial space, is the work of Iranian-born architect Hamid Omrani, known for the "Persian Palace" homes he designed in Beverly Hills.

William Adams, one of the two ARB members who is an architect, called Omrani's proposal "quite handsome."

Omrani's remodel design calls for the now-blue painted façade to be changed into yellow brick and stucco. The plan also calls for the windows to be enlarged and surrounded by cream-painted metal frames. New balconies will be added on the second floor.

The gold cross and gold-lettered "Sunlight Mission Church" sign that weathered a months-long battle will at last be removed.

City staff tried to have the sign removed four years ago during a sweep to enforce the City's sign code, saying the sign was "excessive and confusing."

Sunlight Mission appealed, countering that its sign had historical merit, and the City Council narrowly voted to allow the sign to remain, although two council members voted for its immediate removal.

The board members unanimously supported Omrani's remodel design.

Newly-appointed member Michael Folonis, the board's other architect, said it was a "vast improvement."

"Especially given where they started," he said.

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