Church Gets OK to Take Over Mann Theater
Plans to turn a shuttered Valencia multiplex into a church have moved ahead as the city of Santa Clarita granted a permit for the Church on the Way to open a campus at the former Mann Theater.
The city’s approval of a minor use permit last week “means that the land-use approval, which is the change of use from the theater to a place of worship, has been granted,” said Greg Lefler of the Camarillo architectural firm Lefler and Associates.
The letter announcing the approval comes with nearly eight pages of conditions that the Van Nuys-based Church on the Way must meet as it does the actual reconstruction to convert the 10-screen facility into a church.
For the exterior of the building at 23415 Cinema Drive, “the renovation is not that extensive,” Lefler said. “We’re doing a little bit to the facade to make it look less like a theater.”
“The cost is still up in the air,” he said. “We just have to kind of take a look at” the city’s conditions of approval, he said.
“We hope to get to construction as soon as possible. We’d like to be done with the construction drawings in six weeks.”
The Mann Theater was the first multiplex in the Santa Clarita Valley. It was renovated and expanded in 1983 but closed a few years ago after newer, larger multiplexes opened at Valencia Town Center and in Canyon Country.
The Church on the Way, also known as the First Foursquare Church of Van Nuys, held small group meetings and Bible studies at the Mann for a time but moved to Valencia Foursquare Church when the city said it couldn’t assemble in the former theater, Lefler said. The building has been closed since.
“It was just a misunderstanding,” Lefler said. “The city staff has been very cooperative in explaining why they wanted certain things. The city is trying to protect the interests of the community.”
The Church on the Way has two major campuses on Sherman Way in Van Nuys, as well as a seminary. It sponsors a television program and 24-hour radio broadcasts on stations in Lancaster, La Crescenta, Ventura County and Los Angeles.