By Joe Tash
Solana Beach Presbyterian Church will expand and remodel its preschool, add an elevator tower and a flower kiosk and make other improvements at its property on Stevens Avenue, following approval of a $1 million renovation project by the Solana Beach City Council.
The council voted 4-0, with Councilman Mike Nichols abstaining, at its meeting on Wednesday, July 13, to approve the project at 225 Stevens Avenue. According to church officials, a preschool at the property, which has been in operation for 47 years, will be expanded to accommodate 169 children from the current attendance of 135.
The school will move from an older building on the church property to the ground floor of a newer building, which will be remodeled on the inside. The church will also build a new playground for the school, and reconfigure its parking lots and add landscaping. A 34-foot-tall tower will be built to provide handicapped access to the building’s second floor, and a flower kiosk will be built on the property, which will be used by the church’s Hispanic ministry to raise funds.
The council’s vote came after a two-and-a-half-hour public hearing, during which numerous church officials and members spoke. No one spoke in opposition to the project.
“We’re excited about continuing to build on 47 years of serving our community with our preschool,” said Mike
McClenahan, the church’s senior pastor, after the council’s vote. “We believe (the project) is going to be very good for the church and the community.”
In a presentation to the council, project architect Lew Dominy, who is also a church member, said the church plans to spend more than $1 million on the renovation and remodeling work.
Former Solana Beach Mayor Margaret Schlesinger, who said she has attended Solana Beach Presbyterian Church for 30 years, also urged the council to approve the project.
“It looks like a win-win situation for the city and the church if you approve this permit,” she said.
The flower kiosk planned as part of the project will be 196 square feet, according to a city staff report, and will primarily be used by the church’s Hispanic ministry to raise funds for church programs, officials said.
Among the programs that will be operated in the renovated building are Casa de Amistad, a tutoring program for 150 Hispanic elementary through high school students, and Reality Changers, in which Hispanic teens are paired with mentors from the church who teach them study and life skills, according to an email by church members sent to the city in support of the project.
McClenahan, the senior pastor, said the church has 1,600 members and conducts three church services each Sunday, including one in Spanish. The church was founded in 1943. Those who want more information about Solana Beach Presbyterian Church can log on to www.solanapres.org.