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Catholic Diocese offers $50 million for the Crystal Cathedral

The proposal includes a three-year lease and is one of many for the home of the 'Hour of Power' broadcast.

July 23, 2011|By Nicole Santa Cruz, Los Angeles Times
  • The embattled Crystal Cathedral church in Garden Grove filed for bankruptcy in October, citing more than $50 million in debt.
The embattled Crystal Cathedral church in Garden Grove filed for bankruptcy…

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange said Friday it has made a $50-million offer to buy the bankrupt Crystal Cathedral.

The cash proposal would allow the Garden Grove church to lease the entire property for 36 months. At the end of the lease, the ministry would have to find a new location.

"We wanted to be as flexible as possible given their situation," said Alan Martin, a bankruptcy attorney for the diocese.

The Crystal Cathedral, founded by the Rev. Robert H. Schuller and the home of the weekly "Hour of Power" broadcast, filed for bankruptcy in October, citing more than $50 million in debt.

As the bankruptcy unfolds, the cathedral has received several offers for the property, which includes the glass cathedral, designed by architect Phillip Johnson, and a 234-foot prayer spire.

A real estate group has offered $46 million for the 40-acre site, as did Chapman University. Both bids would allow the church to lease back its core buildings with the possibility of purchasing the cathedral.

The cash proposal by the Catholic Church would allow creditors to be paid back in full before the end of the year and would preserve the cathedral's cemetery.

"We think it would be as quick as a resolution as possible," Martin said.

Orange Bishop Tod Brown has said that the diocese needs a worship space for the more than 1.2 million parishioners in the area and that the 3,000-seat cathedral is a less expensive alternative to building a new cathedral. The diocese has considered a project in Santa Ana that would cost at least $100 million.

In recent weeks, the Catholic Church has made it clear that an offer would be solidified. On Friday, the diocese submitted formal proposals to both the Crystal Cathedral board and the creditor's committee.

Marc Winthrop, an attorney for the cathedral, declined to comment Friday.

The diocese said it would work with the cathedral to find an "acceptable alternative worship space," possibly another Garden Grove diocese venue, upon expiration or early termination of its lease. It also would renovate portions of the cathedral to bring it in line with worship practices.

"It's in their hands at this point," said Steve Bohannon, a spokesman with the diocese.

A spokesman with the Crystal Cathedral could not be reached.

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