Crystal Cathedral to Open Bidding on Church Property

Crystal Cathedral received a $46 million offer from an Orange County real estate developer for its 30-acre campus last week, but the church is hoping to get a better deal by holding an open bidding process on its property.

During a federal bankruptcy court hearing Thursday, Judge Robert Kwan ruled that creditors in the Crystal Cathedral bankruptcy can't propose a competing plan to reorganize and the sell the Southern California megachurch.

The judge agreed to extend the church's exclusive right to auction off its property.

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Marc Winthrop, the church's attorney, told Jude Kwan Thursday that he would soon file a motion specifying the bidding procedures to help obtain the "highest and best bid for the church property," the Orange County Register reported.

Crystal Cathedral, founded by television evangelist Robert H. Schuller, owes more than $50 million to more than 500 creditors, according to bankruptcy exit plans filed last week.

Crystal Cathedral Ministries said in its reorganization plan filed last week that it would sell its property to Greenlaw Partners of Newport Beach for $46 million and use cash from the sale to pay back bank loans and some of its creditors. The real estate investment firm would build apartments on the land.

Crystal Cathedral would lease the church back from Greenlaw Partners for $212,000 a month and be guaranteed exclusive lease rights for 15 years, according to the reorganization plan.

The church administration would also have the option of buying back the church, the landmark venue of its "Hour of Power" broadcasts, for $30 million within the next four years.

The church's attorney said Thursday the bidding process takes into consideration both the highest price and the best bid.

"For example, if a bid comes in for $100 million to use the property for a college, and another comes in at $95 million to use the cathedral as is, although $100 million is a higher bid, the second one is a better bid," said Winthrop, according to the O.C. Register.

Winthrop said the goal is to have the ministry continue as it has been.

A hearing on the church’s reorganization plan is scheduled for July 13.

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