The creditors committee considering options to pay off the mega-church's approximate $50-million debt outlined and analyzed some of the bids for Crystal Cathedral's assets, including a Laguna Beach condominium. And the Diocese sweetened its offer today, church officials announced.
Initially, the Diocese put in a $50-million bid for all of the Garden Grove property in a plan that would allow the Crystal Cathedral ministries to rent space for a couple of years while the deal was being completed and before the mega-church would be evicted. Diocese officials in last month's proposal also offered to help Crystal
Diocese officials announced today, however, they upped the offer to
$53.6 million, to be paid in cash on closing. Also, Crystal Cathedral
Ministries would be allowed to rent at least 50,000 square feet on the campus for up to 15 years with rent equal to 90 percent of fair market value. The lease option also carries a right to purchase the space at 90 percent of fair market value during the first five years of the lease.
Diocese officials said that satisfies the goals of paying the creditors,
making room for a new Diocesan cathedral while respecting the Crystal
Cathedral ministry and legacy.
"This sanctuary should remain a place of worship and remembrance,
nothing less,'' Bishop Tod D. Brown said. "Further, the Diocese itself would have access to a much-needed cathedral complex in a shorter time, and at significantly lower cost, than original construction would demand.''
The $47 million bid from Orange-based Chapman University has also been boosted to $50 million. Another new player could be arts and crafts retailer Hobby Lobby, according to the court documents. The committee appeared dismissive of a $50-million bid as "inferior'' from Norco-based My Father's House Church International, because it apparently would not provide as much up-front cash, according to the court documents.
Mark A. Thomas, senior pastor of the religious organization, held a news conference Friday saying he has more than 100 religious and business leaders who can back his plan, but he said it would largely be a pay-as-you-go proposal that depends on ongoing contributions from congregants. Thomas also pledged to maintain the integrity of Crystal Cathedral if his bid succeeds.
Meanwhile, Crystal Cathedral officials say they no longer want to sell
the property to pay off debts, and are pinning all their hopes on a pledge drive among its worshippers to come up with $50 million in three months. That could prove a tall order as the court papers indicate steeply declining donations since 2008 when the economy collapsed.
-- City News Service