You may have seen construction being done from the I-5 where the Mission Valley Resort once stood.
Back in early 2016, buzz began about a proposed 18-acre evangelical resort to be built at the entrance to Mission Valley. The development would be mixed-use, with 127 timeshares, retail space and several religious attractions including a full-scale replica of the 187-foot Wailing Wall, and other interactive Bible-themed rides.
Called Legacy International Center, this project is being led by 87-year-old Morris Cerullo, a Christian minister who has traveled the globe for the past 70 years spreading his message. He would like others to experience his enlightenment and religious tenants through this new resort which will also include a hotel, museum and training center at a cost of $160 million.
Jim Penner, the executive director of the Legacy Center Foundation said Cerullo wants to share with others his worldly experiences as a community.
“He would say, you know, Americans know very little about the world around them. A lot of what this Center is, is exploring all of these different things and saying there is a common thing that pulls us together and that’s a God who loves us,” Penner said.
However, this project is also located only five miles away from the LGBT neighborhood of Hillcrest; Morris Cerullo ministries is a supporter of ex-gay therapy.
But according to architect Vincent Mudd, the center should be a meeting place for everyone.
“We think that once you have a facility that encourages people to come, of all faiths and non-faith, to come and learn about each other, you think people will love more and we think the level of hatred in this world will go down,” Mudd said.
The proposal wasn't approved without some backlash, the Hillcrest Town Council began a letter writing campaign which addressed the foundation's attitude toward the LGBT community, and the impact having such a large complex would have on traffic. Subsequently, the San Diego City Council approved the project.
"This is a monument to God and we are making it accessible, making it very accessible,” Penner said.
Conservative estimates say about 250,000 visitors are expected a year, but the facility can accommodate up to 400,000.
The Legacy Center is expected to be finished and ready to open by November of next year.