The JCC at Milken in West Hills announced this week that it will shut its doors permanently as of June 30. The 42-year-old center will also close its Early Childhood Center, which has 80 preschoolers, on June 15.
In a Feb. 1 e-mail, Milken JCC chair Steven V. Rheuban announced that the board was abandoning its search for a new location following the sale of the building that houses the center.
“It is with a heavy heart that we must tell you all that after an exhaustive and in depth search for a new home, without success, the Board of Directors of The JCC at Milken has had to make a most difficult decision,” Rheuban wrote.
The JCC at Milken survived the wave of Jewish community center closures that began in 2002, in part, because its property, Bernard Milken Jewish Community Campus, was owned by The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles rather than the centers’ parent organization, Jewish Community Centers of Greater Los Angeles. While the center struggled with debt and a loss of membership, its leadership was able to strike a deal with Federation in 2009 to remain on the campus.
A deal between New Community Jewish High School and The Federation to purchase the Bernard Milken Jewish Community Campus for an undisclosed amount was confirmed last October, following nearly a year of negotiations. The high school is expecting to relocate to the renovated property from its current home on the property of Shomrei Torah Synagogue in September 2013.
The West Hills center had been hoping to permanently move its Early Childhood Center to a new location, and temporarily move its senior services to a different site in June while the New Community Jewish High School began reconstruction at the Milken campus.
The JCC at Milken’s closure follows that of the Valley Cities JCC, a 50-year-old institution that shut its doors in June 2009, less than a year after moving from its longtime Sherman Oaks site to one in Van Nuys. North Valley Jewish Community Center, which continues to offer programming at various locations despite losing its Granada Hills property during the centers crisis, would be the only Jewish community center left in the San Fernando Valley.
In addition to its preschool and senior programming, the JCC at Milken is home to arts and fitness programs, after-school programs, sports and summer camps, and Team Los Angeles, an award-winning team that competes in the JCC Maccabi Games.
In his letter, Rheuban wrote that the center’s board and staff would be compiling a list to help its members find similar programs within the Jewish community.