The Chabad of the Tri-Valley completed its $2.5 million purchase of the former Pleasanton Masonic Lodge on Hopyard Road last week, giving the Jewish organization its first dedicated, permanent home in Pleasanton since beginning services in the founders' living room more than a decade ago.
Long-range plans call for the new Chabad Center for Jewish Life to serve as an educational, cultural, and religious center for Jewish residents in the Tri-Valley. But in the short-term, closing the transaction last Thursday puts the Chabad on track to open its doors on Hopyard in time for Jewish New Year services next week, according to Rabbi Raleigh Resnick.
"An amazing way to start a year. I can't tell you how excited everybody is," Resnick said during a tour of the site at 3370 Hopyard Road on Monday.
Located near the intersection with South Valley Trails Drive, the Chabad Center adds another faith to a block with strong religious presence. The property shares a parking lot with St. Clare's Episcopal Church, and across the street is Harvest Valley Christian Church.
"It really fits in the Valley Trails neighborhood," Resnick said.
The 8,000-square-foot building includes a main hall that will house the sanctuary, plus spaces for classrooms, Jewish community gatherings and food preparation. There's also about an acre of outdoor land, including a backyard patio that became a source of discord in the neighborhood when the masonic lodge hosted parties there.
It was almost exactly one year ago that the Pleasanton City Council imposed strict new regulations on the Masons' property as part of the city's response to complaints from Valley Trails neighbors about excessive noise and outdoor partying at the lodge.
That council meeting in September 2016 came amid reports that the Chabad was looking to buy the property from the Masons, and Resnick said the organization has reached out to Valley Trails residents in the time since to explain the plans for the site and receive input.
"This is so exciting for our community and going to be so beautiful for our neighborhood," Valley Trails residents Leonard and Ilene Cooper said in the Chabad's press release announcing the property sale.
The acquisition process, initially anticipated to be finished last fall, took much longer than expected, but the journey was well worth it, Resnick said. The $2.5 million purchase price was funded by donations from hundreds of Jewish families in the Tri-Valley.
"We began 12 years ago in our living room and are overjoyed by the vibrant Jewish community that has been created. We thank God and are all humbled and excited to have reached this incredible milestone," the rabbi said.
The Chabad of the Tri-Valley, founded by Resnick and wife Fruma in 2005, eventually grew out of the couple's living room and made the rounds at meeting rooms in various facilities in and around Pleasanton before leasing a 4,000-square-foot building on Quarry Lane almost two years ago.
The former masonic lodge finally gives the growing Jewish organization a permanent home in Pleasanton, Resnick said.
The group is working to spruce up the flooring and paint the walls to make the interior more presentable ahead of the start of the Jewish New Year next week. Rosh Hashanah begins the evening of Sept. 20 and ends the night of Sept. 22, with Resnick planning for those to be the first services at the Chabad's new home.
The organization has submitted conditional use permit and design review applications to the city for its future plans for its religious facility and preschool at the Hopyard site. Those applications remain pending and require Planning Commission approval.
City planning staff has reviewed the documents and is awaiting revised applications after expressing concern about the design and intensity of use proposed in the original applications, community development director Gerry Beaudin said.
"Chabad has not yet provided hard dates for their resubmittal. No (public) hearings are scheduled at this time," Beaudin added.
In the meantime, the Chabad would be allowed to operate in a manner consistent with the existing conditional use permit for the property from the Masons' ownership, Beaudin said, adding, "but any new or expanded operating characteristics will trigger the requirement for a new CUP."