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Convent sought by Katy Perry to remain vacant during court battle

Sister Catherine Rose, 86, left, and Sister Rita Callanan, 77, are photographed at the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Retreat House in Los Feliz in June.

Sister Catherine Rose, 86, left, and Sister Rita Callanan, 77, are photographed at the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Retreat House in Los Feliz in June.

(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

A restaurateur who is vying with singer Katy Perry to buy a villa-style hilltop convent in Los Feliz will vacate the property and continue paying rent to a small order of nuns as the legal battle to determine who will own the prized property continues.

The ruling was the latest step in a convoluted legal saga that pits a successful businesswoman and an order of nuns against the Los Angeles Archdiocese and Perry.

The dispute centers on who has legal authority to sell the villa-style hilltop property in Los Feliz, which spans several acres with expansive views of downtown Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Mountains.

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The Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary contend that they have the legal authority to sell the property and that their sale agreement with restaurateur Dana Hollister for $15.5 million was legal.

The Los Angeles Archdiocese, however, went to court to stop the sale, arguing that the church has legal authority over the property and that the nuns’ sale was unauthorized.

In July, Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant said the nuns’ deal with Hollister was “clearly invalid.”

The archdiocese argues that its own agreement to sell the convent to Perry – for $14.5 million in cash – is legally sound.

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On Tuesday, Chalfant accepted a proposal by Hollister to vacate the property, continue to pay rent to the sisters and notify the archdiocese of any repairs needed on the property.

A hearing in October will begin proceedings to determine who has the authority to sell the property.

Attorney Michael Hennigan, who represents the archdiocese, said he was surprised that Hollister would choose to continue paying rent on the property while not living in it. Hennigan noted that the rent will be paid to the order’s nonprofit institute.

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“I’m amazed,” he said. “We can always use the money.”

For more Los Angeles County court news, follow @sjceasar


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