A church in North Beach is set for a very modern rebirth following its purchase by a Russian venture capitalist. Instead of a christian place of worship, as Our Lady of Guadalupe Church once was, the building will soon be used to pay homage to the Silicon Valley idol du jour: Innovation.
The Chronicle reports that the church at 906 Broadway was built in 1912 and was home for much of its life to Spanish-speaking parishioners. The church closed in 1991, and the property served as a school for some time until it was again sold in 2013. The new owners, a group of investors, worked on the property and put it back on the market in 2015.
It was in August of this year that the church was sold again for $7 million to a group of Russian investors led by Pavel Cherkashin.
The long-time church/one-time school apparently presented the perfect opportunity for Cherkashin, the co-founder of San Francisco-based GVA Capital, who through his work investing in artificial intelligence and neural networks has made clear that his faith lies less with the religions of old than with the promises of tomorrow. He told the paper that he intends to turn the church into a meeting place for thought leaders to gather and discuss the big issues facing the world.
"For a whole century it served as a place for people to come with their dreams and challenges, help and support each other and connect," Cherkashin told the paper. "We needed a place for an open public forum to inspire free flow of thoughts and ideas on innovation."
Just what, exactly, does that mean? It's not exactly clear — but it likely won't just be about Soylent and Google Glass. It might even be something like a TED Talks venue. "Today, innovation doesn't mean technology only," he explained. "It is about art, philosophy, ethics and many other disciplines. The space for such a public forum should be equally comfortable for representatives of all those disciplines, outside traditional framework of board room, conference center or technology lab. [An] old church building was a perfect match."
No opening date has yet to be announced.