Orange County Business Journal

Chapman Bids $46M to Buy Crystal Cathedral Campus

Chris Casacchia Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Chapman University in Orange has made a $46-million bid to purchase Crystal Cathedral Ministries' 35-acre campus in Garden Grove.

The ministry filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last year and has seen tumult among its governing board since then. It recently said Rev. Robert Schuller, its founder, would retain a seat on the board as chairman emeritus with no voting power.

Schuller's daugther, Sheila Schuller Coleman, is executive director of the ministry and has been at odds with some board and family members in recent months.

The bid submitted by Chapman matches one from Newport Beach-based real estate developer and owner Greenlaw Partners in April.

The ministry has proposed a reorganization plan that would use cash from the proposed $46 million sale to repay a $33 million bank loan and some other creditors over a two-year period.

Crystal Cathedral was built by television evangelist Robert Schuller and is known for its television show “The Hour of Power” that broadcasts from its iconic glass church.

The property is within a few miles from Chapman University and includes seven buildings with more than 329,000 square feet of space, according to university officials.

The proposal would allow Crystal Cathedral to lease back the church and other property on the campus. The church would also have a chance to buy back the property during the first four years of the lease.

Crystal Cathedral Ministries, considered by many to be the country’s first modern megachurch, listed assets and debts of $50 to $100 million when it filed for bankruptcy protection in October.

The church estimates its congregation has some 10,000 members.

Ministry officials cited the economy and dwindling contributions as the reasons behind the filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Santa Ana.