Crystal Cathedral frontrunner bidders are university, Catholic diocese
The leading bidders for the Crystal Cathedral in Orange County appear to be a University and a Roman Catholic diocese, but a new buyer (unnamed in court documents) appears to be coming into the picture, among other bidders.
Meanwhile, Crystal Cathedral Ministry is still hoping to keep the cathedral and is trying to raise the funds through pledges and donations. It also announced that the campus is not for sale, putting it directly against its creditors committee.
The creditors committee allowed the cathedral to choose a buyer at a minimum purchase price of $50 million. However, failure of the church to cooperate may mean losing out on buyback options, and perhaps, having to leave the cathedral sooner that it was expecting to.
Chapman University and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange are in stiff competition for the bankrupt Crystal Cathedral. Court documents that were filed last Tuesday also state that a third, unnamed buyer has emerged.
Bids have also been lodged by Hobby Lobby, a nationwide retailer of arts and crafts which is controlled by David Green, an evangelical Christian; and My Father’s House Church International, which is Norco-based. The documents did not mention who the new potential bidder is.
Crystal Cathedral, a 31-year-old church with 10,000 panels of glass, became known internationally through its Hour of Power television program. In October last year the ministry filed for bankruptcy after accumulating a $50 million debt.
The church, which lies in Garden Grove city, 30 miles from Los Angeles, was founded in 1955 by Rev. Robert Schuller and wife Arvella. They started out by renting a drive-in theater for services, and continued to grow and prosper until Robert Schuller retired in 2006. (See http://theundergroundsite.com/index.php/2011/07/crystal-cathedral-mulls-50-million-offer-from-roman-catholic-church-16749/ and http://theundergroundsite.com/index.php/2011/05/crystal-cathedral-sold-to-pay-off-creditors-16086/).
Diocese of Orange
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange upped its original bid of $50 million to $53.6 million. Crystal Cathedral’s ministry may also rent space temporarily, but would have to vacate after three years.
Stephen Bohannon, diocese spokesman, said the original plan of the diocese was to build a new cathedral which would have cost $100 million. However, they realized that they could cut expenses in half by simply purchasing the Crystal Cathedral.
Bohannon told Reuters that the slash in costs is part of the reason why Bishop Tod Brown and diocese officials made the offer. Also, “[Bishop Brown] feels very strongly that Crystal Cathedral should remain a place of worship.”
Chapman University, a rival bidder, upped its original bid of $46 million to $50 million, the minimum bid required by the creditors’ committee. The University is an affiliate of Disciples of Christ, a Protestant denomination.
The University is also offering the services of two individuals with “extensive experience in business, financial and operational strategy,” at no charge, a service valued at $500,000 annually.
Chapman also said it may lower the repurchase price from $23.5 million to $21 million if Crystal Cathedral is able to repurchase the property, and may consider a longer lease term to Crystal Cathedral than its original proposal of 15 years, but this would be subject to approval.
Church ministry wants to stay put
Crystal Cathedral ministry said less recently that they will try to raise $50 million so that they will not have to sell the cathedral. Sheila Coleman, director of the ministry and daughter of Robert Schuller made this announcement during service less than two weeks before.
Coleman said, “I believe with every fiber of my being that God turned the eyes of the world on Crystal Cathedral because God wants to make a big bold statement,” Reuters reported. “He wants the world to know that he is a God who still does miracles.”
The creditors committee, however, issued a warning that it would proceed with a sale even if the ministry is against it, court documents said. It is also possible that the final deal might not include provisions for repurchase or lease-back.