We’ve covered the recent controversy over the selling of St James Episcopal Church in Newport Beach, CA. Well, it now appears that a new church property controversy has arisen in Southern California, but this time in the Roman Catholic Church.
A group of nuns from the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary are seeking to sell their former convent, nestled on a hillside in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles, with gorgeous views, because the order is no longer big enough to maintain the expansive property. The actual deed though is seemingly held by the Diocese under Archbishop José Gomez, but there is a dispute over who has the legal power to sell the property and which of two buyers will be the actual buyer.
The Diocese has sold the property to pop singer Katy Perry, while the nuns insist they have sold it to local restaurateur and property developer Dana Hollister.
From the Guardian:
Hollister’s offer breaks down into $10m for the estate and $5.5m to buy out a long-term lease of a priests’ retreat house on the grounds. “I own it 100%,” said the developer. “It’s almost like a castle. It’s beautiful.”
The archdiocese, which is in escrow with Perry, said Hollister’s offer was flaky: a deed for $100,000 in cash and $9.9m payable under a non-recourse promissory note which left the fate of the priests’ house unclear and the whole deal hinging on turning the estate into a hotel, which neighbours will oppose.
Perry’s offer, in contrast, was $10m in cash for the nuns and $4.5m to buy property in their name where the priests’ retreat house will be relocated, said Monica Valencia, a spokesperson.
The Diocesan attorney believes that the Hollister deal, though seemingly more money, does not involve much money up front and is dependent on changing the use of the property which is unlikely to meet municipal approval;
Michael Hennigan, a lawyer for the archdiocese, said Hollister’s offer was bad news for the nuns. “How they were persuaded to do this, I don’t know. Either the sisters were taken advantage of, or there’s more going on than I understand.” The archdiocese owns the estate and is suing the developer, said Hennigan. “There is no chance that the Dana Hollister deal will stand. It’s infested with so many problems. It’s 99% dead.”
Michael Starler, an attorney for Perry, said she was assured the archbishop had authority to sell the property, and that consummation of any sale would need the Holy See’s approval.
“The archdiocese is proceeding through appropriate legal channels to remove the cloud on title unlawfully created by Dana Hollister and has expressed confidence that the matter will be resolved shortly.”
Hollister insisted that her offer was sound and that the deal was done. “We’re optimistic. It’ll work out in the end. The world goes round and round.”
Any sale, ultimately will require the approval of the Holy See, whose approval the nuns hope will align with their wishes;
“I hope Pope Francis has been seeing this, because if anybody can help us it’s him,” said Sister Rita, seated in the former chapel on Friday. “I think he’ll stop this nonsense, I really do.”
The LA Times story is here
posted by Jon White