Highland Park residents share their thoughts on the news that Church of Zoe bought the former bright orange “Mystic Dharma” building at the corner of Figueroa Street and 52 Avenue. The 98-year-old building, which is 19,200 square feet in what developers like to call the “hottest corridor ” in Los Angeles, was listing for $8.75 million.
The story broke yesterday morning on @highlandpark90042‘s Instagram account, a page popular with longtime residents and the new school of Highland Park. The page shows a video originally posted to Zoe Church’s Instagram in which founder Chad Veach and his wife, Julia, shout, “We bought a building,” as a drone camera hovers gently above. head and Fat Joe and Remy Ma’s viral hit “All the Way Up” starts playing in the background.
Feedback from concerned community members quickly began to pour in. Some residents, like Christina Guerra, were quick to point out Zoe’s controversial past: “Oh wonderful, homophobes and fanatics in our neighborhood. 🙄 Google them; not hard to find info on their shitty views back. For once, I would have an overpriced coffee. RAW.” On the post from Zoe’s Instagram account, most of the couple’s followers, many of whom are not residents of Highland Park, left positive comments.
The controversy behind Zoe Church goes back to the roots of the religious organization, being both modeled on and part of the The Hillsong megachurch family, who were exposed in 2016 for participating in gay conversion therapy and “pray the gay away.” Originally founded in Australia, Hillsong pioneered what has been dubbed the “charismatic christianityform of his religion, gaining massive momentum over the past 10 years among celebrities such as U2’s Bono, Justin Bieber, Kim Kardashian and many more.
Last year, Hillsong church founder Brian Houston resigned after being charged by Australian police with “knowingly [concealing] information relating to sexual offenses against children. International caused controversy the megachurch to close nine of its 16 campuses across the country and fall out of favor with its millions of followers.
Veach and Julia de Zoe Church were the executive producers of The heart of mana film that equates homosexuality with “Sexual Breeze and Porn Addiction.” In 2019, Zoe Church was accused of being anti-LGBTQ by actor Elliot Page for their connection to Hillsong.
In July last year, the Mystic Dharma Temple was briefly used as a space to host experimental dinner parties that combined Mexican cuisine and immersive art. THE TACO assisted one of the diners and remembers that parts of the floor were tilted, indicating that major repairs were needed.
News of the change in ownership at the recognizable bright orange building in Figueroa comes days after Highland Theaters – another century-old building considered a neighborhood landmark a few blocks away – was also for sale.
Highland Park had a large Latino presence since the 1950s. The last census recorded the neighborhood as be 70% Hispanic. Many of these families and residents braved him at Highland Park in the 80s and 90s when he was considered one of deadliest and most active areas in gang violence. The neighborhood has been the poster child for rapid gentrification over the past decade. In 2014, Highland Park was the subject of a series on Market to be a neighborhood where the controversial act of “re-letting” was practiced.
The sale of the two buildings will mark the significant end of an era and another sea change in one of Los Angeles’ oldest neighborhoods.
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