Russian investors are turning a gorgeous San Francisco church into a space for ‘thought leaders’

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Courtesy of GVA Capital

A 104-year-old church in San Francisco is getting an extreme makeover thanks to a group of Russian investors.

GVA Capital, a new venture capital firm and startup accelerator, dropped $7 million on the former Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, in the hopes of converting it into an event center for “international thought leaders,” as first reported by SF Gate.

Let’s take a look inside.


Built in 1912, Our Lady of Guadalupe Church doesn’t look like your average event space. For nearly 80 years, it served as a place of worship for Spanish-speaking immigrants.

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Courtesy of GVA Capital

The church closed in 1991 after membership declined, and it became an English school for Chinese-speaking children. Community has always been at its core.

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Courtesy of GVA Capital

Pavel Cherkashin, cofounder of GVA Capital, hopes to carry on the building’s tradition of bringing diverse groups of people together. After renovations, it will function as a meeting place where the firm will host speaker series’, hackathons, and networking events.

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Courtesy of GVA Capital

“San Francisco has always been the center of free thinking and innovation in our country,” said Cherkashin, who moved from Moscow to the US three years ago. “This is the perfect place for people from all over the world to come and share their vision for the future.”

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Courtesy of GVA Capital

A large hall, outfitted with stained glass and a late-19th century organ, fits hundreds of people comfortably for listening to someone speak or present an idea.

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Courtesy of GVA Capital

SF Gate reports that Our Lady of Guadalupe Church received designation as a historical landmark, so the exterior cannot be altered. But the interior is fair game.

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Courtesy of GVA Capital

Source: SF Gate


Cherkashin said the firm plans to restore the building closer to its original aesthetic. “If the original architect were to see it now, he’d be proud,” Cherkashin said.

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Courtesy of GVA Capital

The $7 million real-estate grab was a surprising move by the new firm. Cherkashin said, “To be successful, investors have to build a reputation by doing something valuable for the community and business ecosystem. … That’s what we are doing here.”

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Courtesy of GVA Capital

The church will be fully operational by summer 2017.