(Photo: The Christian Post)
Chapman University President James L. Doti sent an email to the school community last week in which he expressed that he and the Board of Trustees are regretful about losing the bid over the Crystal Cathedral ministry's property to a Catholic diocese, but suggested the school is ready to move on.
Chapman University lost the case over the purchase of the Garden Grove, Calif.-based ministry's signature property on Nov. 17 to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange, having made and lost its final bid on Nov. 16. University officials offered to pay $59 million in cash as a last resort bid, but were turned down. The school was also offering the megachurch a chance to buy back the property within the next 30 years for $30 million, with a financing option, university spokesperson Mary Platt told The Christian Post Monday.
Doti sent an email to the Chapman community last week, in which he expressed his disappointment over the turn of events, saying that the Board of Trustees and a special committee of the Board viewed the opportunity as a long-run investment that would give the university land and buildings for future development.
"Acquiring 30 plus acres and architecturally stunning buildings in relatively close proximity to our campus made it an opportunity too good to pass up," Doti wrote. "While the bidding process turned out to be quite a horse race, we lost in the final stretch."
The president said he is not planning to appeal the court's final decision.
"I believe the free market system worked. Quite simply, the Catholic Church wanted the Crystal Cathedral more than we did and, therefore, was willing to pay more for it," Doti wrote.
Doti also listed the advantages of the bidding adventure in the email, naming the publicity which the school received – and which its PR departmental estimates to be worth $2.5 million – as well as a chance to spend the saved money on purchasing more campus land.
"We fought a good fight. I don't think it would have been financially prudent to do more than we did. What's next? When one door closes, another opens," the president wrote.
During the last hearing in a Santa Ana, Calif. court, the Rev. Robert A. Schuller, the church founder, said that church administrators support the diocese's $57.5 million bid, even though the diocese's terms require the ministry to leave the premises within three years.
He added that he deeply respects Chapman University, but "the uncertainty regarding the future use of the campus for religious purposes was divergent to the call of both God and our denomination that we embraced nearly sixty years ago."
"We made one final attempt with a new offer," Platt told CP.
"It's always disappointing when something like this happens," she added when asked about the mood among the staff, who hoped to open a new health sciences campus on the ministry's 40-acre property. But the real estate market is really good right now, Platt said, suggesting that the school should have no problem finding a new property to focus their attention on.
The Garden Grove church was forced to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October 2010 when faced with lawsuits for money owed to vendors from the 2009 production of "Glory of Christmas."
In addition to past due expenses, the church was also slammed by a decline in revenue.
Sheila Schuller Coleman, senior pastor of Crystal Cathedral Ministries, declared in May that the church was being sold as a result of its financial situation.