GARDEN GROVE, Calif. (AP) – Interest intensified Wednesday in the site of Southern California’s famed Crystal Cathedral Ministries, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last year.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange said it was exploring the possibility of joining the list of potential buyers for the sprawling property that features a glass spire that can be seen from miles away in Orange County.
Already included on the list are Chapman University, which is considering building a medical school on the site, and Orange County-based real estate investment firm Greenlaw Partners LLC.
Diocese of Orange Bishop Tod D. Brown noted there is no cathedral in the county, even though it’s home to 1.2 million Catholics and the nation’s 11th largest diocese.
The diocese is designing a cathedral for nearby Santa Ana, but the sale of property belonging to the world-famous Crystal Cathedral megachurch presents an opportunity, he said.
“If the diocese can prevent the loss of this important Christian ministry and what the Crystal Cathedral has represented to so many for so long _ and meet its own priorities for a new cathedral _ we have a duty to at least review the options,” Brown said in a statement.
The Crystal Cathedral aims to sell the property and lease back portions for use as a way to help erase its $36 million mortgage and wipe out almost all of the $10 million in unsecured debt that has plagued the institution for several years since a disastrous leadership transition and slump in donations.
In May, the church developed by “Hour of Power” televangelist Robert Schuller presented a plan to sell the site to Greenlaw Partners for $47 million. Under the proposal, the property would be divided into five parcels, with multi-family housing built on two of them.
On Tuesday, Chapman University announced its interest in the site for a possible medical school or other health sciences complex _ a proposal preferred by a committee of church creditors.
Marc Winthrop, the church’s bankruptcy attorney, has said there is at least one more potential offer and expects the church’s board will review the bids jointly once they are filed.
A bankruptcy court hearing has been scheduled for Tuesday to establish bidding rules for the property.