Fuller Theological Seminary will not leave its Pasadena campus to move to Pomona primarily due to restrictions on the current property, school officials announced Monday, Oct. 28.

President Mark Labberton had announced in May 2018 that the seminary would sell its 13-acre campus and move to Pomona by 2021 because remaining in Pasadena would be costly and limit its ability to reach potential students.

But, he said Monday in an issued statement, despite having purchased land and developed architectural plans, the move is not possible now.

“This means letting go of some wonderful dreams and hopes we shared with Pomona leaders and citizens, with whom we hoped to become neighbors,” Labberton said. “We deeply regret seeing these dreams unfulfilled.”

Labberton said the board voted unanimously on Thursday, Oct. 24, to remain in Pasadena for two reasons — dramatically escalated construction costs for the planned Pomona campus, and differences with the city of Pasadena that affected the sale and sale price of the existing campus.

Fuller spokesman Britt Vaughn declined to discuss details of “the differences” that arose suddenly and unexpectedly, making the sale of the Pasadena property and construction of the new campus in Pomona unfeasible.

Fuller officials said a lot changed very quickly.

“The economics and timing on which we based the original plan have changed too significantly to make it the best course for Fuller’s future,” board Chairman Dan Meyer said in a statement posted on Fuller’s website.

A little over a year ago, after looking at locations throughout the greater Los Angeles area, Fuller officials said they selected Pomona for its diversity, proximity to top colleges and significantly lower cost of living. The plan was to move to the corner of Holt and Garey avenues.

Fuller Seminary has been a Pasadena institution since its founding in 1947, when classes were held in the Lake Avenue Congregational Church. The seminary moved to its current location at Oakland Avenue and Walnut Street in 1953.

Fuller’s decision is disappointing but understandable, said Pomona Mayor Tim Sandoval.

“It’s a complicated situation,” he said in a phone interview. “At the end of the day, they had to do what’s in their best interest. We would’ve loved to have had them in Pomona. Fuller has had a long history of success in Pasadena and they would’ve played a great role in the renaissance of our downtown area. We wish them the very best.”

The property Fuller had purchased and was getting ready to build out is located at the edge of Pomona’s downtown, Sandoval said.

Fuller’s board is exploring what to do with the Pomona property, which is currently occupied by businesses.

Labberton said for Fuller the way forward “will continue to involve moving some of (our offices) to the modern but underutilized campus the seminary operates in Houston.”

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