UPDATE: Newsong Church confirmed via news release Tuesday that the Santora Arts Building in downtown Santa Ana is in escrow, with a partnership formed by the church as the buyer, according to the Voice of OC.
Somewhere former Santa Ana Councilman Ted Moreno is smiling. The Voice of OC is reporting that Irvine’s Newsong Church is buying the Santora Building, which is a key component of Downtown Santa Ana’s Artists Village. Moreno, as you might recall, mightily opposed the Artists Village when it was being planned. Moreno, a devout Christian, contended that the Artists Village was nothing more than an attempt by homosexuals to take over Downtown Santa Ana.
In recent years, the Artists Village has seen a few galleries come and go while a lot of restaurants and bars have opened up, including a gay bar, the Velvet Lounge. And yes, quite a few homosexuals have moved into the Downtown area. But it would be a stretch to argue that they have taken over – although one of our readers coined the phrase “gaytrification” to describe what has been happening in the area.
Now a very significant and well-funded church is coming to town – and taking over the building many consider to be the fulcrum of the Artists Village. And as it turns out, one of our current Council Members, David Benavides, is a member of the Newsong Church. Should the artists be freaking out right about now?
Maybe. A contract between the Santora’s owner, Mike Harrah, and the City of Santa Ana, that guaranteed that the Santora would remain dedicated to the arts, has expired. And Governor Jerry Brown got rid of redevelopment, which funded a lot of development in the Downtown area. Some of the galleries at the Santora have not been paying their rent. I can’t imagine that a new landlord would put up with that for long.
But Benavides told the Voice of OC that he thinks the Newsong Church supports the arts and would continue to make the arts part of what goes on at the Santora. However, the Voice of OC also reported that Newsong lead pastor Dave Gibbons (pictured above with a few friends, at the Santora building) made a comment on his Facebook page about wanting to build a 300 seat meeting facility at the Santora. Gibbons also apparently divulged that his church is paying over six million dollars for the Santora building. That figure represents a lot of tithing.
I visited the Newsong Church in Irvine once. They have a lot of Asians in their membership, including quite a few Koreans. They like modern rock style music. Folks that go there really like it. I prefer the historic First Baptist Church of Santa Ana, which also has modern music at their 11 am Sunday service.
This would not be the first church that Harrah has sold a historic building to. He sold the old Masonic Temple in Downtown Santa Ana to the Scientoligists a few years ago. The building is still largely mothballed but I hear that the Scientologists are finally making improvements to the property. You still see the Scientologists trying to hawk Spanish versions of their “Dianetics” book at local festivals. I am sure they will be there in Downtown for the upcoming Cinco de Mayo Festival. I will ignore them as usual.
While Usual Suspect Tim Rush had a royal cow, over at the Voice of OC, regarding the impending Newsong purchase of the Santora, I think it is fine. I have no problem with it. And it will be royally funny watching the Newsong crowd trying to get along with the likes of Theo Hirsch, Alicia Rojas and Matt Southgate…
By the way, didn’t a church group ruin the historic Yost Theater until it was purchased and turned into a concert hall and bar?