The California Theater, an 1800-seat downtown San Diego venue that has been vacant for numerous years, has been purchased by a South County pastor who plans to offer youth stage productions and musicals in the 70-year-old building.
Rev. Jerry Hanoum, pastor of San Diego International Christian Center in Bonita, bought the property – which includes an eight-story office complex — last month at the bargain price of $300,000. He estimated it will cost him and his investors $7 million to $8 million to raise the curtain again at the rundown theatre.
“God has blessed us with a tremendous opportunity to a light in downtown San Diego,” the pastor said. “There’s a lot of work to do, but we’re aiming to open next year. It’s really a classic, historic location — and we’re going to refurbish it first class.”
Hanoum is former youth pastor at Melodyland in Anaheim, where he directed 2,500 youth. He was also an Assemblies of God pastor for a number of years before starting San Diego International Christian Center last year. He bought the theater separate from church, he said, because he wants to assure it is an interdenominational project.
Recording artist Leon Patillo, on staff at the church as worship leader, is assisting Hanoum with the project and is planning a major recording studio.
“I’m looking for a chaplain – someone not connected with the church – to oversee the spiritual growth of our student actors,” the pastor said.
Student actors will be a major part of the ministry, he said, with up to 1,000 young people involved in six drama troupes that will rotate performances. There will be paid professional instructors to work with the students in a one-year program.