Chapman University, a private university in Southern California, has offered to buy the Crystal Cathedral campus for $46 million and allow the bankrupt church to lease back the Cathedral and other buildings on the 35-acre campus.
The university, backed by the church's creditors committee, submitted a proposal to purchase the massive property in Garden Grove Tuesday, filing an offer in Bankruptcy Court in Santa Ana, Calif. The official offer comes just one day after the church's founder Robert H. Schuller was ousted from the Crystal Cathedral Ministries' board of directors.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange said Wednesday it is also considering to make a bid on the property, according to The Associated Press.
The megachurch has been trying to claw is way out of more than $50 million in debt owed to more than 500 creditors.
The board of trustees for Chapman University, located just three miles from Crystal Cathedral, approved the purchase plan on June 27.
"Dr. Schuller’s lifelong message of courage and ambition closely matches the characteristics that are so much a part of Chapman University," said University President James L. Doti.
"We are fortunate to be in a position where we can make this offer and are hopeful our proposal to the ministry and court will be accepted."
Doti said the university would use parts of the property for a satellite campus and possibly a health sciences center, according to The Los Angeles Times.
Through the Chapman offer, Crystal Cathedral would lease back its buildings for a cheaper price than an earlier offer by real estate developer Greenlaw Partners of Newport Beach.
In a reorganization plan filed in May, Greenlaw also offered $46 million for the property but would lease back core buildings for $212,000 per month and The Family Life Center, which houses a school and production offices, for $95,000 per month for two years.
The newest offer would lease back core buildings for $150,000 per month and the Family Life building for $65,000 per month for two years.
Compared to the $30 million buyback offer from Greenlaw, Crystal Cathedral will pay $23.5 million under the Chapman proposal.
A hearing on the church's motion to approve bidding procedures for the property is scheduled for July 12.
On Tuesday, the church's creditors committee, Committee of Creditors Holding Unsecured Claims, also filed a motion to end the church's exclusive right to present a bankruptcy exit plan.
A U.S. bankruptcy judge ruled in June that the creditors committee did not have a right to propose a competing bankruptcy exit plan for Crystal Cathedral.
A hearing on the exclusivity motion will be held July 26.