Former Altadena Nursery Site Could Become Center for Community Events

Despite a sign indicating a church is replacing Altadena Nursery, church officials say an outreach center and market will be operating at that site

By Justin Chapman, Altadena Patch, 11/15/2010

A sign promising a church at the site of the now-shuttered Altadena Nursery had some Altadenans worried that a promising retail space on Lake Avenue could be lost.
Instead, it now appears that the site could become a center for  community events, including a possible farmer's market.
The sign on the property that has hung for the last month states that Grace Community Bible Church would be the new tenant of the property owned by Balian Investments LLC.
However, that is not exactly  the case, according to church officials. The Grace Community Bible Church, a nondenominational Christian congregation run by Pastor Michael Wilson, will continue to be located at 1757 Lake Ave. in Pasadena.
A branch of the church, Grace Community Outreach, is the organization moving into the old nursery site, moving from its former location at 1550 Elizabeth St. in Pasadena.
The outreach center is moving into the nursery site, located at 1968 and 1974 Lake Ave. in Altadena, starting Monday. Operations are set to begin around Nov. 30, according to Grace Community Outreach board member Arthur Bonner.
And what will those operations entail, exactly?
"What Outreach does is community events," said Bonner. "One of main things is a farmer's market-style open-air fair, where we have local and non-local businesses set up booths and sell things like green and natural furniture, fruits, vegetables, flowers, natural and hemp clothing, natural incense and candles; that sort of thing. There are also booths for freelance writers and self-publishing, and people from different denominational churches handing out literature."
He said the open-air markets will be held at the nursery site at least twice a month on Saturdays, with all operations held within the boundaries of the property. The purpose of holding these types of events is twofold.
It's a way to generate revenue for the Grace Community Bible Church by charging a fee to individual vendors for space for their booths. It's also their way of giving back to the local community.
Previously, Outreach events were held at the Rose Bowl. While most vendors come from all over to participate in Outreach's events, Bonner said they're open to all local vendors.
"That's the intention," he said. "To pull as many individual Altadenans and Altadena businesses who operate in that capacity as possible into our events. To my knowledge there's really no place in Altadena where an open-air market like this exists. That's part of the design of our outreach policies."
Altadena Nursery had to close up shop late last year after it was unable to continue paying rent for six months to the landlord, Balian Investments LLC, owned by local developer Missak Balian.