Famed Historical Building Was Originally Constructed As First ‘Psychic Temple’
By Tiffany Rider - Senior Writer
December 4, 2012 - If the walls of the 244 E. Broadway building could talk ...
Julia Huang, CEO of interTrend, often ponders this jokingly with her employees, who will move into and save the designated landmark American Hotel, originally known as a “Psychic Temple,” sometime next year.
interTrend, a full-service communication agency, has been around for 21 years and currently occupies the 9th floor at 555 E. Ocean Blvd. The agency focuses on assisting Fortune 500 companies target the Asian-American market in the United States and, more recently, the Asian market globally. The business has been in Long Beach for eight years and began to look for a new headquarters about a year ago.
“We started to look at other areas in terms of more creative space,” Huang told the Business Journal. “We have been constantly looking over the past eight years and more seriously in the past year.” The company explored various options, from warehouses to factories – even churches.
In February 2010, Urbana Development, LLC – which included Jan van Dijs, principal and founder of JRVD Builders and Developers – entered into an agreement to purchase the 5,100 square feet of the existing 244 E. Broadway site as an adaptive reuse project under the Long Beach Redevelopment Agency (RDA).
Dijs’ company has worked on other successful adaptive reuse projects, including the creative offices at 4th Street and Linden Avenue. Huang saw that project and approached Dijs to initially see if there was room for interTrend. “There wasn’t enough square footage for what she needed,” Dijs said. He then told her about the American Hotel project. “She saw the building and really liked it. She knew then what she was up against, but she has a lot more vision than your average person.”
What Huang and Dijs – a partnership then called Temple Creative Realty, LLC – were up against was navigating the transfer of the property to the City of Long Beach in March 2011 so the city could retain the property prior to the dissolution of the RDA. While the initial contract included $200,000 in funding from the RDA for the adaptive reuse of the American Hotel, the loss of RDA also meant the loss of that financial support. The full financial burden is now on Temple Creative Realty.
Since the original agreement was approved, improvements have been made to the site including interior demolition and façade tile removal. Dijs and his team will now work to adaptively construct the American Hotel into three stories for a total of 15,000 square feet of mixed-use space. interTrend will occupy the top two floors. The ground floor and basement provide 4,500 square feet of retail and restaurant space, and according to Huang and Dijs there are two local businesses in talks to lease it.
The building was constructed in 1905 by The Holy Kiss Society to be the first “Psychic Temple,” a place for the so-called religious cult to practice “New and Practical Psychology.” By 1911, the advocate of this cult was run out of town. The building was sold at auction to one of the Psychic Temple’s original investors, who renamed it the American Hotel. It became a single-occupancy hotel for a time and has served a variety of commercial uses over the past century.
“The history itself offers so many stories,” Huang said. “We love the history of it and I think in building it and renovating it we want to tell that story as well, whether it be the Psychic Temple or the American Hotel.”To follow the project, visit interTrend’s site www.psychictemplelbc.com.