Oklahoma retailer offers $47.5 million for Crystal Cathedral
An arts and crafts retailer with a strong Christian influence has made a $47.5-million cash bid for the bankrupt Crystal Cathedral.
News of the offer by Hobby Lobby comes one day after the retail chain announced it had donated the 170-acre Rancho Capistrano to Saddleback Church in Lake Forest.
This is the fifth known official offer for the Crystal Cathedral property and comes despite the church board’s recent decision to rely on a faith-based donation effort to emerge from more than $50 million in debt. The Garden Grove church, founded by the Rev. Robert H. Schuller and his wife, Arvella, filed for Chapter 11 last October.
Officials hope to raise the money before a potential creditor’s plan is finalized.
Hobby Lobby, based in Oklahoma City, said it would lease the Crystal Cathedral property to The King’s University, a Pentecostal bible college and seminary based in Van Nuys, said Mart Green, vice chairman of the board for the retailer and son of founder David Green.
The university's chancellor is Jack Hayford, a longtime Pentecostal leader in Southern California and founder of The Church On The Way in Van Nuys.
Under the proposed plan, the school would be allowed to sublease any portion of the property. Officials with the King’s University did not return a request for comment.
Hobby Lobby has done business with the Crystal Cathedral before. Last year, it bought the Rancho Capistrano property from the struggling church for an undisclosed amount, the younger Green said.
Green also said The King's University approached Hobby Lobby with the idea to purchase the church campus. The proposal was made several weeks ago. And so far, Hobby Lobby isn’t deterred by the faith-based approach the cathedral is taking to exit bankruptcy.
"As long as we know that the Schullers approved of it, and our understanding is that they do, our offer still stands,” Green said, referencing the founder and his wife.
Hobby Lobby operates 485 stores in 40 states, including one store in California.
John Charles, spokesman for the Crystal Cathedral, said he hadn’t heard about the Hobby Lobby bid and did not know how much in donations the church has raised.
"I know we got a lot of positive comments and people offering to help, but I don’t know what the response in dollars is right now," he said.
-- Nicole Santa Cruz
Photo: The Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove. Credit: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times