The First Church of Christ, Scientist is now officially a historic landmark.
The planning commission gave that designation on Thursday, making the nearly 100-year-old building the third building in Lakewood’s history to get the designation of historic landmark.
Not everyone was happy about it.
The attorney for the California-based phone company that now owns the property attended the meeting and expressed concerns that the new designation would lower the property value.
“That’s not the case at all,” said Dru Siley, the city’s director of planning and development. “In fact for a unique property, with that kind of historic designation, it makes that building an asset.”
Jim Artiano, representing California Phone, couldn’t be reached for comment.
The company can appeal the planning commission’s ruling.
Earlier this year, the Lakewood Heritage Advisory Board recommended that the structure at 15422 Detroit Avenue receive the special distinction — which means that the building could never be demolished.
The structure also now qualifies for historic building federal and state tax credits.
According to the application, the stone building boasts a number of significant architectural features including detailed masonry work.
Designed by Charles Draper Faulkner — the architect behind dozens of First Church of Christ, Scientist structures in the Midwest — the large two-story building’s construction began in 1913.
Church services took place in the basement until the upstairs was completed in 1922.
The building, situated just to the west of the Drug Mart Plaza, was sold in 2004 to a commodity plastics trading firm, which extensively renovated the property.
And last year, the structure — most recently home to Maxxum Plastics — closed its doors and was put up for sale. According to court documents, the company ceased operations in Lakewood in 2009.
That’s when California Phone took ownership.
According to a 2008 tax assessment, the property and the building are valued at $1.8 million. The property — including the 23,000-square-foot building — was put on the market for $2.5 million.
City ordinance, passed in 2009, requires that the historic designations must appear before the planning commission twice. The planning commission also met in May, before giving the green light on Thursday.
Siley said that California Phone is looking to sell the property.
“We’re hopeful that they find a great buyer for that property,” he said. “I think there’s going to be a great new owner who will bring new life to that building and I hope that happens soon.”